SHANGHAI, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Every summer, a group of German tourists travel by car or by bus across the Eurasia continent from Hamburg following routes on the ancient Silk Road to reach Shanghai.
Lars Anke, the executive director of the Hamburg Liaison Office in Shanghai, always waits at the finish line to greet the tourists.
His office has been supporting the annual cultural exchange event since 2006, when Anke was appointed to the position in Shanghai. Each year, some 50 tourists make the journey from Germany to China.
"The road trip, which is over 13,000 kilometers long and takes 50 days to complete, helps tourists know more about China and the significance of the Belt and Road Initiative," said Anke.
This year, the meeting point was changed from the Oriental Pearl Tower to the Shanghai Tower, the city's newest landmark and the tallest building in China.
Anke said he has always been proud to help build new and stronger ties between Shanghai and Hamburg, two cities on different sides of the Silk Road.
Speaking fluent Mandarin, Anke calls himself a "new Shanghainese," since he uses WeChat to talk with his friends, pay for online-delivery food, and unlock shared bicycles across the city.
Last year, he won the 2017 Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award, which recognizes and praises foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to Shanghai's economic and social development as well as promoted the city's communication with the world.
Anke was born in 1978, the same year China started to reform and open up. His ties with China finally came in the late 1990s, when he studied at Shanghai International Studies University for a summer. After that, he made frequent business trips to Shanghai.
He said since he joined the Liaison office in Shanghai, he has been busy promoting the economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchange between Shanghai and Hamburg, as well as China and Germany at large.
"There are numerous examples of how Germany and China cooperate with and learn from each other," said Anke.
On weekdays, Anke takes the subway to work. He said Shanghai, with the longest metro system in the world, has benefited from German technology when the city piloted its Metro system in the 1990s.
From Anke's point of view, in the mass transit field, Hamburg is experienced in maintaining public facilities over an extended period while Shanghai shines for its experience in managing massive passenger flow using new technologies.
When constructing Shanghai's ports, Shanghai mayors and officials used Hamburg as the model to develop Shanghai's modern and automated harbors. Now, there are mutual studies between the two cities' authorities in the field, said Anke.
In 2004, the Shanghai Port and the Port of Hamburg established friendly relations under which the two ports deepened cooperation on the design, management, construction, and implementation of information technology.
Nowadays, half of the volume of commodity trade between Germany and China is handled via the port of Hamburg. One third of the volume of total containers through the Hamburg Port are shipped to or from China.
"China and Germany face similar challenges such as an aging population. The two countries are both pursuing higher-quality development, more efficient government and lower risks in the financial sector," said Anke.
He said China is upgrading its economy, which is driven by emerging industries and high-quality consumption while continuing to open up its enormous market to foreign investors, from which German companies have benefitted from China's development.
He said German companies in medical, 3-D printing, aviation, and eco-friendly energy industries are eager to cooperate with Chinese local governments and companies in research and development.
Anke's primary task has been to connect contacts from both countries to promote communication.
Anke said Germany would seize the opportunities brought by China's further opening-up, and broaden the range of bilateral cooperation and personnel exchange.