“Welcome to the Chinese Embassy Mr. Kaufman. Please let me show you to your seat.”
How did I find my way into the Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen? It all started on Monday. I was at my internship at the Copenhagen Post when my boss called me over to his desk. He told me that he has a special assignment for me. He told me that there is a new Chinese ambassador to Denmark and he wanted to meet the Danish press. I was to represent the Post at the conference. I jumped at the opportunity!
I was so excited for this opportunity. The first thing I had to do was a bit of research of Danish-Chinese relations. Here are a few tidbits of information in case you were curious. (I know you are :) )
Tidbit #1 - Denmark was the first Western country to establish diplomatic ties with China. On February 15, 1956, the two countries upgraded diplomatic relations from ministerial to ambassadorial level and exchanged ambassadors.
Tidbit #2 – China has an embassy in Copenhagen. Denmark has an embassy in Beijing and 4 general consulates in Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Tidbit #3 – China suspended ties with Denmark after its Prime Minister met the Dalai Lama and resumed them only after the Danish government issued a statement in December 2009 saying it would oppose Tibetan Independance and consider Beijing’s reaction before inviting him again.
The second thing I had to do was dress for the occasion (of course!). So I put on my best sweater vest and took a selfie (obviously) and set out for the embassy.
I finally made it to Hellerup, a suburb of Copenhagen, and found the Chinese Embassy. It wasn’t hard to miss.
I didn’t really know what to expect. Maybe it would be a press conference like you see on television at the White House. Maybe it was in a lecture hall-esque setting. As it turns out, it was a small round-table (well…rectangular) discussion. On one side of the table sat the Ambassador, two of his aides, and two translators. On the other side there was a photographer from a major newspaper, an editor at DR, the Danish version of the BBC), a journalist from Denmark’s USA Today Equivalent, and two other journalists from other national newspapers, and myself, a student intern studying in Denmark for 4 months.
The Ambassador, who spoke very good English, began to talk about what he has done and seen in his first 5 months in Denmark. He then began to talk about Danish-Chinese relations. He then opened it up to questions from the journalists. Everyone asked questions except for me because I still wasn’t too well versed in Danish foreign policy.
After the meeting was over, I went up to him and thanked him for the opportunity and then he said he had a question for me. He said, “I know you are not Danish. Where in the States are you from?” I told him that I was from Toledo, Ohio. He said he knew lots about Ohio. He used to work in the Chinese consulate in New York City for many years. He said Ohio was one of the states under his supervision. He then told me there was one thing he really loved in Ohio. I asked, “What?” (I was on the edge of my seat. I was so curious to hear what he was going to say.) He said, “That big school, Ohio State.” I beamed!
So basically, The Chinese Ambassador is a pretty cool guy, an Ohio State fan, and is always willing to take pictures!