On the last day of 2002, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made a special trip to Shanghai to attend the ceremony of the Shanghai maglev demonstration operation line opening to traffic.
The fact that the two prime ministers, as guests in the first group, took the rail train running from Longyanglu Station to the terminal-the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, indicated that the world's first commercialized operational high-speed traffic line of maglev rail train built with German technology has finally run quickly in Shanghai.
At this moment, after an interval of about two and a half years' time since Premier Zhu Rongji took the maglev train from Lathen, Germany, which was at the stage of trial run, Shanghai has, at such a short space of time, completed the commercial operational line of maglev train which had stirred controversy among the Germans for as long as several years, this has indeed enabled the Germans to come to see the "real China speed".
The electromagnetic principle adopted for the maglev train was put forward by German engineer£»ermann Kemper in 1922, which was awarded a patent in 1934. But thereafter this technology had all along remained in a state of "something existing only on paper". Beginning from 1969 when Germany formally started research and development, the German maglev train technology has so far gone through eight generations, the designed speed per hour reaches as high as 500 km, while the actual running tempo is 400-odd km.
The "blossoming and bearing fruit" of the maglev technology has greatly delighted the Germans, the Germans see the tremendous business opportunity contained in the maglev train. Aside from China, the United States has also thought up a similar idea-all this has made the commercial prospect of maglev train very attractive!
However, the German nation, which is good at thinking, is engaged more in introspection after rejoicing over their success.
Introspection one is: one knows speed only by making a comparison. Like the Japanese who used the fax technology invented by Germans in commercial development, Shanghai seized the first chip of the German maglev technology application, and the fast speed of its construction has aroused the endless admiration of this maglev inventor country.
In recent years, the economic development of Europe with Germany as the lead has been slow, with an annual economic growth rate of only 2 percent, whereas China's annual rate of economic growth has all along been staying at 7-8 percent.
A German media report says: Shanghai maglev is the best evidence of "China speed". The process of this project from contract conclusion to trial operation took only two years' time. In comparison, the 200-km high-speed train line linking Frankfurt and Koln took 10 years.
When Li Ruihuan, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) visited Berlin in 1997, the then mayor of Berlin, while introducing the city's construction, said proudly that Berlin was the largest work-site in the world, but he corrected himself as soon as he found he had made a mistake, saying that Europe came first, while Shanghai was the world's number one. The mayor's words evoked a burst of hearty laughter.
Introspection two is: Facts speak louder than words. An article carried in a German medium is entitled "What Can We Learn from the Chinese?" Such words from the mouths of the always self-conceited Germans have astonished even the Germans themselves.
As we think of the past, we find it was really difficult to hear a single word in praise of China from the German news media, but today, this situation is changing. As they look afar into the thriving Chinese economy in the other hemisphere, German media begin to examine their reports about China.
As a matter of fact, on the question of taking a comprehensive, objective approach toward China, the German media have lagged behind the political and economic circles of Germany. Former German President Richard von Weizsacker once criticized Germans for being unwilling to advance further and lacking vigor, he appealed the Germans to learn from China which is full of vigor and from other countries.
Of course, there are still many questions arising from the maglev train, in terms of Sino-German relationship, it can be regarded as another example of friendship and cooperation between the two country. Chancellor Schroeder once said: German-Chinese relationship is not an ordinary one, but rather it is a heart-linked relationship; Premier Zhu Rongji has stressed: In recent years, Chinese-German relationship is on the best level in history whether in terms of breadth or of depth. The opening to traffic of the Shanghai maglev train demonstration operation line will undoubtedly push the further development of Sino-German relationship of friendship and cooperation.
(People's Daily January 3, 2003)