2017 Twinner article in Nuova Ecologia – Fabian Horst on China’s tightening grip on civil society

Our Legambiente 2017 Twinner Davide Sabbadin visited a conference on civil society in Hong Kong. In Nuova Ecologia, his article reflects the influence of the new China’s Overseas NGO Law focused on NGO cooperation with European and Germany NGOs. Davide talked to Dr. Fabian Horst, EU-China Civil Society Ambassador, who he met there. Fabian Horst states that the situation unfortunately worsened. He explained that the State obliges European NGOs to registrate through cumbersome and costly processes as well as to partner with a “tutor” Chinese NGO. These are mainly dependent on the Ministry of the Interior and often represent state bodies or institutions. The costs linked to the registration application have been a growing disincentive for foreign NGOs who as a result, have been forced to leave the country. NGOs working on “sensitive” topics such as syndicalism, migrants, protection of ethnic groups, mass media and religion. No international NGO that deals with the protection of LGBT rights and human rights, has sofar been accepted.

Read more here (Italian):

Si stringe la morsa cinese sulla società civile

2018 Twinner article in the Shanghai Daily: Urban Neighbors


2018 Twinner Kerstin Reinders has been interviewed by the Shanghai Daily during her stay in China. The result was an informative yet emotional piece on the impact urbanisation and modern city planning have on community development. The work Kerstin and her Twinning partners Ma Xiaolu (AIFEN) and Yi Ren (Dinghaiqiao) do is very grassroot, bottom up and community based. Cologne and Shanghai encounter the same issues be it lack of third spaces (publicly used get together localities), growing anonymity and social isolation or waste issues and poverty gaps.

Enjoy the great read here

German AIDS-Hilfe and Anhui Hefei Qingwei Health Center


This year’s twinner Werner Bock has joined his Twinning partner Gao Pan in Hefei. In his Blog he keeps track of the cultural differences and commonalities he encounters. Everyday adventures and most importantly the way Chinese NGOs deal with HIV. A still very controversial topic in the People’s Republic. Local governments often associate HIV infection with prostitution which is prohibited as well as Homosexuality which, even though Decriminilized still a taboo in many places.

You can find Werner’s German Blog here

Diary Entry: Kirsten at the AIFEN office meeting

Kirsten Reinders from Cologne has been staying in Shanghai since the beginning of August. Together with her Chinese twinning partners from ‘Dinghaiqiao’ and AIFEN she discusses waste reduction and waste separation, comparing Chinese and German strategies. Kirsten’s ‘Büdchen am Nikolausplatz’ seems to be a kiosk on the outside, but actually is a lot more. She and her colleagues organize multiple cultural events such as concerts, readings and exhibitions. At the same time they provide information on waste reduction in everyday life. That’s also what the Dinghaiqiao Community Center is doing right now on a more fundamental level. While waste separation is quite widespread in Germany already, Dinghaiqiao wants to draw attention to it in China. Read what the two twinners talked about in detail in this short diary entry:

Yesterday I’ve had the chance to present our work of the ’Büdchen am Nikolausplatz’ to the colleagues of Xiaolu (Aifen) in their meeting room. They were especially interested in our Recup system, a deposit system that we use for a more sustainable coffee to go. Also, I could inform them on how we in Germany organize the deposit system for plastic bottles. Since they are working very hard on the education of the residents of Shanghai in waste classification, they were very much interested in how this worked in Germany. I could give them a brief overview and also shared my own experiences when the Dual system was established in Germany and the resistance it faced at the beginning.

Theater and LGBT Workshop in Chengdu

Our twinner from the Netherlands, Els Schutmann (Forum Theater Enschede) only got to China recently – and already co-organized a workshop together with her Chinese partner Qian Li (Chengdu Storyteller). Alongside the participants of the workshop, most of whom work voluntarily with children, Els wanted to establish an environment of creativity, in which the young adults could play, observe and also learn from and with each other.

Therefor she introduced several games and plots that are popular methods for the work with children. To learn more about the recent workshop, also check out the website of the Chengdu Storyteller here.

Full Twinning Report 2017

The 2017 twinner exchange was a small anniversary: it was already the fifth round of the program. The report “2017 EU-China Twinning: Partnerships between European and Chinese NGOs” illustrates the outcomes, challenges and lessons last year’s exchange taught. It furthermore highlights the importance of well-established Sino-European relations – especially in the fields of social and environmental justice and climate change. Some of the participants already started to develop follow-up cooperation with their partners. You can download the full report here.

Twinner Arianna Americo publishing about the “One Belt one Road” initiative

Following her twinning in 2017 Arianna Americo published an article on the topic of ‘China’s “Ecological Civilization” and the Belt and Road Initiative’. The potential role the BRI might play in meeting the 1.5degree target of the Paris Agreement and the social as well as environmental risks inherent in this mega project are the focus of the text which can be found in the broschure “Silk road bottom-up: Regional perspecives on the ‘Belt and Road Initiative'”. A cooperation between chinadialogue and Stiftung Asienhaus.

The publication can be downloaded here or ordered at: verwaltung@asienhaus.de


Second Follow up by Twinners Antoaneta and Zhilu!

Heretofore unheard of, a twinning pair decided to organize a follow up to their follow up. Antoaneta Pophlebarova from Balkan Kids Bulgaria and Yao Zhilu formerly of Lingnan Partner Community Centre, who twinned in 2016 and did a follow up in 2017, continued their successful partnership in May 2018 with a 3rd visit of Tony in China.

The two specialists on sexual education have by now organized trainings for more than 800 people in this field which is still riddled with taboos both in China and Bulgaria. Their training courses and events have not only garnered the attention of universities and think tanks but also those of party cadres and departments of health care and prevention.

The results of the twinning and 2017’s follow up impressed the leaders of the Institute of Prevention of Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Guangzhou so much, that they decided to invite Antoaneta to return to China and, together with Zhilu, perform a 3-day-training seminar for social workers from the health department and activists of the Guangzhou Youth Net. Joining the trainer team this time is also a participant of the 2017 follow up who shows great promise in continuing this excellent twinner pair’s legacy.



Stiftung Asienhaus and the Robert Bosch Foundation are gratified to be able to support this 2nd follow up and wish Tony and Zhilu continued luck in their endeavors.



Press Release – 2018 EU-China NGO Twinning: Selection of 24 NGOs

Cologne – On 10th of May, a selection committee selected twelve European NGOs and their corresponding Chinese partners for the upcoming EU-China NGO Twinning Exchange 2018. The yearly program aims at the development of sustainable partnerships between European and Chinese NGOs. Since its inauguration, the program saw participation of 20 European countries. In 2018, we received applications from 5 states we have never received applications from before.

The exchange lasts four to eight weeks respectively. The twinners will have the opportunity to acquire their partner organization’s knowledge as well as their methodology and thereby improve their own capacities. Specific activities during the program include preparatory seminars, exchange with local NGOs as well as capacity building workshops in the respective regions. The exchange period for European participants to China is from August 1st to September 30th 2018, for Chinese participants to Europe it is from October 8th to December 9th 2018 (if anybody wants to arrange events or interviews with our participants please contact us).

The program is funded by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Stiftung Mercator. It has two parts: While seven of the organizations deal with issues of environmental and social justice under the guidance of Stiftung Asienhaus/ Cologne, the other five pairs are active in the field of climate change under the guidance of Climate Action Network Europe/CANGO.

The selection committee decided on the following twelve twinners:

Social and Environmental justice:

  • Südwind (Austria) / Labor Education and Service Network (Hong Kong)
    Exchange Topic: industry monitoring, labor rights advocacy, training approaches and methodologies
  • Energy Justice (Romania) / Shenzhen Zero Waste (Shenzhen)
    Exchange Topic: municipal waste incineration pollution and its impact on communities
  • Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe (Germany) / Anhui Hefei Qingwei Health Center (Anhui)
    Exchange Topic: HIV prevention, providing support for already infected people
  • Naturland e.V. (Germany) / Laotu (Shenzhen)
    Exchange Topic: advancing sustainable agriculture through farmers and consumers
  • Forumtheater Enschede (Netherlands) / Chengdu Storytellers (Sichuan)
    Exchange Topic: gender equality by providing sexual education for young girls
  • Büdchen Nikolausplatz & Agora Cologne (Germany) / Dinghaiqiao Cooperative Society & AIFEN (Shanghai)
    Exchange Topic: social justice and community building, culture education for kids
  • The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (UK) / Shenzhen Mangrove Conservation Foundation (Shanghai)
    Exchange Topic: wetland center management and environmental education promotion for wetland conservation


Climate Change:

  • European Federation of Transport & Environment (Belgium) / Shanghai International Shipping Institute (Shanghai)
    Exchange Topic: de-carbonization of the shipping sector
  • EEB (Brüssel) / EnviroFriends (Beijing)
    Exchange Topic: Industrial waste management practices
  • Green Circle (Hungary) / Chengdu Roots & Shoots (Chengdu)
    Exchange Topic: Environmental education and waste management
  • Go Green (Macedonia) / Sichuan Green Foundation (Sichuan)
    Exchange Topic: Environmental education
  • I4CE (France) / SEE Foundation (Beijing)
    Exchange Topic: Climate change and corporate resilience


Click here for the 2018 EU-China NGO Twinning press release in pdf format.

Founder of a Twinning alumni organization receives Federal Cross of Merit

Last Tuesday Felix Fixbeiner, founder of the youth environmental initiative “Plant for the Planet”, was presented with the German Federal Cross of Merit. “Planet for the Planet” focuses on climate policy engagement of children and adolescents by planting trees. Fixbeiner himself began his commitment to plant trees against climate change at elementary school age. Today he is 20 years old and thus the youngest German ever to receive a Federal Cross of Merit. “Plant for the Planet” was part of our twinning program which brings Chinese and European NGOs together in 2015. In cooperation with Beijing Envirofriends, they launched a “Day of Action” on the occasion of the Paris Climate Summit and were part of the “Climate Strike” initiative.

Stiftung Asienhaus wholeheartedly congratulates Mr. Fixbeiner as well as “Plant for the Planet” and wishes him further success in planting millions of trees and stopping climate change with his determined commitment.