The event was attended by several Ministers of the People's Republic of China, including the Chinese Minister for Science and Technology, Prof. Dr. Wan Gang, and the Vice Minister for Education, Ms. Chen Xiaoya. Prof. Dr. Erich Thies, General Secretary of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, Prof. Dr. Peter Strohschneider, Chairperson of the German Council of Science and Humanities, and Prof. Zhou Jialun, Senate President of Tongji University, addressed over 200 invited guests, emphasizing the significance of long-standing bilateral relations, excellence in education and research, and the necessity for research cooperation between Germany and China.
Following the grand opening of the German-Chinese Year, Freie Universität Berlin hosted a launch event in the form of a conference dealing with "New Forms of International Cooperation: Joint Graduate Programs" on March 31 and April 1, 2009. Through lectures and workshops, the participants were able to gain an overview of current developments in Chinese and German universities. Discussion themes included, e.g. opportunities and obstacles in developing transnational graduate programs, opportunities for academic exchange, higher education parameters, and key areas of German-Chinese cooperation.
On the second day of the conference, representatives from graduate schools and research clusters that were successful in the German Excellence Initiative of the federal and state governments, had the unique opportunity to meet representatives of Chinese institutions of excellence and attract new partners for future collaboration.