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40 years of reform, opening-up changes China greatly: China Reform Friendship Medal winner's son

January 11, 2019


Abstract : "Over four decades, you can see the big progress China has made, and other countries say they would need for hundreds of years," said Bernd Gerich, the son of China's first foreign factory director in reform and opening-up.

BERLIN, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- "Over four decades, you can see the big progress China has made, and other countries say they would need for hundreds of years," said Bernd Gerich, the son of China's first foreign factory director in reform and opening-up.

Last December, China held a grand gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the country's reform and opening-up. Ten foreigners were awarded the China Reform Friendship Medals in appreciation of the support and help from the international community during China's reform and opening-up.

Bernd's father, Werner Gerich, is a well-known German expert during China's reform and opening-up that started in the late 1970s. He passed away in 2003 in Germany, and Bernd was invited to Beijing to receive the medal on behalf of his father.

"It was very emotional because it's been such a long time since he passed away. I'm very proud that he is still not forgotten and deeply loved by the Chinese," said Gerich junior in an interview with Xinhua.

In 1984, 65-year-old retired engineer Werner Gerich was dispatched to the Wuhan Diesel Engine Factory by a Germany's Senior Experten Service, and appointed the factory director months later. At that time, it was unprecedented in China.

Bernd placed the medal in front of a bronze bust of his father in the living room, alongside other awards and souvenirs from China. Recalling the past, he highly praised the great changes in China.

"When my father arrived in China, the factory was in a very bad situation. There's no heating and the factory was surrounded by scarps and disorders, and diesel engine performance was very poor. As a result, the factory was very poor, as well as the living standard of workers," Bernd said.

In his two years as a director, Gerich senior tried hard to introduce reforms and reinvigorated the old enterprise. He introduced, as his son recalled, a responsibility system that ties pay to performance. High-quality diesel engines have been exported to Southeast Asia, earning him the nickname "Mr. Quality" for his strict management and quality control.

In 2005, two bronze busts of Werner Gerich were erected by Wuhan local government, one in Wuhan and another in Duisburg, Germany. According to Bernd, the story of his father was a mirror reflecting China's efforts to improve industrial products quality in the course of reform and opening-up. And now, China's dream is coming true. "Made in China" is becoming more competitive.

"During our stays in Beijing this time, I had a chance to visit the national museum, and there was a big exhibition about the development of China today, and you could see the great progress China had made. It was amazing," Bernd said.

"It's very interesting to see how China has changed. When I went to Wuhan in 2005, there are only 8 million people in the city, and now they have more than 10 million. The government does a lot, not only for industries but also for people's living standard," he added.

While celebrating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, Chinese leaders pledged to unceasingly advance reform and opening up. And Bernd believed that the pledge to continue the policy is a wise decision.

"As you see, if you continue to have a good economic connection, it will help keep the world peace, and good economic relationships can be a win-win situation for all countries," he said.


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