Questions to the Foundation Founder
Prof. Dr. Christian Schwarz-Schilling

Why is it that you as a successful man of economy and long-term Minister of the Federal Post Office and Telecommunications are so interested in subjects such as international understanding, civil rights and social development?



I grew up under the national socialist regimen in Potsdam and witnessed how my own family and many others had to suffer bullying and repression. At that time I could experience firsthand how vital freedom and democracy are. So my awareness for these topics was raised at an early stage. But reconstruction and prosperity were topics of my youth, too, and they remained relevant. In my view my professional activity in economy thus completely logically links with my constant interest in international understanding and civil societies. When in 1992 war and genocide broke out in former Yugoslavia, again war on European soil, I was shaken to the core and most of all shocked in view of the inactivity of our free world. This new war with its atrocity for the people in the middle of Europe made me focus my interest even more intensively on international understanding and peace.


Where does your interest in China and the Asian region stem from?

As an adolescent, I was already so fascinated by China that I wanted to learn as much as possible about her. I studied sinology at Munich University and then did my doctorate. China’s peoples and her rich culture offer an abundance of knowledge concerning human co-existence and the development of culture and society. As Minister of the Federal Post Authority and Telecommunications I was frequently in China where we among others provided advice for the modernisation of the Chinese telecommunication sector. Especially as a sinologist, I very much enjoyed co-operating with the Chinese colleagues. Later on, as chairman of the Subcommittee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid in the German Bundestag, I came to know the Dalai Lama, the head of the Tibetans, and thus took the Sino-Tibetan relations into particular account. My lifelong interest in China hence has different sources: at first, there were the years of scientific involvement during my studies; they were then joined by my insights and observances as a politician, numerous travels and conversations with bearers of responsibility in China. From this stems my strong intention to engage myself and to help where I am able to and where it is of use for the situation.

What do you regard as the special role of your particular foundation?

International understanding and the strengthening of civil societies are not just reserved for dreamers and persons who love doing things for the sake of doing them. These objectives forming the centre of focus of the Schwarz-Schilling Foundation are supported here by individuals who came together from completely different branches. My colleagues in the foundation council and I stem from practical politics and business leadership. We are more than familiar with the economic coherences and in addition three of us know governmental or mandate responsibility from our personal experience. It is a unique mixture – an interaction of life experience and solid realism – which serves the purpose of international understanding.