Focus topics

Beate Lindemann – building bridges to China

Beate Lindemann promotes international relations with Global Bridges

Beate Lindemann is one of the few people who can even think of something positive to say about the Covid pandemic: “I continued to drive to the office every day. Then I sat there alone, sometimes with an assistant. You wouldn’t believe how much you get done!”

Lindemann sees herself as the “go-to girl” at Global Bridges, a nonprofit organization based in Berlin. That may describe her workload, but it hardly does her role justice. In 2011, she co-founded the organization. Today, she oversees its operations. Each year, Lindemann and her team bring together young and, above all, adventurous people from many industries who share an interest in global relations. Global Bridges aims to build bridges in the truest sense of the word – with a focus on China.

Perseverance pays off

Lindemann has been traveling to the country almost every year since the early 1980s. She organizes and accompanies each of Global Bridges’ so-called “Study Trips to China,” plus study trips to other countries. “In the early years, of course, China was still totally closed-off,” she says. “We were constantly accompanied by our partner organization and couldn’t do a single step on our own.” But Lindemann was persistent at keeping in touch and opening doors – a persistence she learned early on. “I had two older brothers and a very powerful father, so I always had to assert myself.”

Lindemann knew early on what she wanted to study. While her siblings all joined the family business in the porcelain industry, Lindemann studied politics in Berlin, did research on the UN in Scotland and eventually wrote her dissertation at Princeton University in the United States. “I’ve always been interested in global relations and its facets,” Lindemann says. She was poached from the US, first conducting research at the German Council on Foreign Relations and eventually accepted an offer from the Atlantik-Bruecke. At the time, the focus was still on relations between the US and Germany, but she became more curious about China.

Form your own impression

Lindemann’s bond with the country is clearly noticeable when talking to her, as is the pride she takes in her work. “We have established close contacts, are allowed to travel freely in the country – despite extreme surveillance and political backsliding.” She wants her fellow members to make up their own minds – regardless of the often critical media coverage. “If someone tells me they know China well, that they travel regularly to Beijing or Shanghai, I know they don’t know China at all.” She has traveled to most Chinese provinces and cities and has many stories to share about how people open up to travelers, especially in rural areas. She still sometimes gets odd looks there – as a blonde foreigner with blue eyes. But Lindemann is not bothered by the special role. She appreciates every opportunity to build bridges between cultures. Svenja Napp


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