As this country carries on its unsure dialogue about integration, spurred on by an anti-immigrant book published by a professional of the central bank, the restaurant owner Jianhua Wu is busy selling wine, marketing wine, eagerly and happily sampling and sipping wine. Not simply any wine, but German wine.
Mr. Wu, who came here from China a quarter century ago to learn engineering, in several ways represents another side in the immigration debate, not the hostile, fearful, anti-immigrant sentiments stirred up by the shock-book of Thilo Sarrazin, the banker. He and his family instead represent the emerging Germany which is slowly, painfully becoming a multicultural society, where the spicy snap of Szechuan dishes and also the subtle, flowery sweetness of the riesling can complement one another.
“Riesling and Chinese food, it functions,” said Mr. Wu, who has become something of any sensation in this particular city for 德国亚超, Hot Spot, that offers an extensive assortment of German wines alongside his Szechuan- and Shanghai-inspired menu.
After struggling to create a life here, working in one fast-food Chinese restaurant after another, after years peddling sweet-and-sour recipes full of MSG, Mr. Wu said he learned that his way to financial success in the adopted home was ultimately wine – or really how their own passion for German wine made Germans feel about him.
“He’s somewhat of a maniac about German wine,” said Holger Schwarz, the wine merchant who organized the get-together at Hot Spot. “He loves German wine!”
Mr. Sarrazin’s book, “Germany Does Away With Itself,” released last week, attacked Germany’s Muslim immigrants for refusing to integrate, saying these were “dumbing down society.” It vilifies Islam and blames Germany’s welfare state for being too generous. Responding, the central bank asked the president of Germany to eliminate him from the board, and Mr. Sarrazin on Thursday announced his intention to give up his post in the end in the month.
The book is selling briskly, however, with many Germans proclaiming that Mr. Sarrazin features a valid point which people like Mr. Wu – who are prepared to make a few of the sacrifices that other immigrants refuse, or fail, to make – are the proof. “He named his son Martin; the Turks would never do this,” Monica Diel, whose husband, Armin, is a winemaker, said on the Sunday promotion, expressing a sentiment who had heads nodding in approval.
In fact, Mr. Wu gave his son two names – Martin as well as a Chinese name, Tao. But it appears that Martin is ascendant, while Tao is fading. This, Mr. Wu says with a sigh, shows that he succeeded in Germany, although not without some cost to his family identity.
That is probably the deepest fault lines in the debate here. Many Germans want to preserve the nation’s cultural identity by having immigrants leave their traditions behind. Many immigrants refuse, saying they would like to hold to their cultural identities.
In reality, the 2 already are blending, especially in places like Berlin, as well as the Hot Spot. Mr. Wu kept his Chinese passport, while his wife and son are becoming naturalized citizens. “I didn’t try hard to integrate,” he said in well-spoken German. “My cultural background is Chinese, which is where I feel in the home. At the back of my head, Germany remains a reekrc country for me.”
In the home, he and his wife, Huiqin Wang, attempt to speak mostly Chinese, but switch sometimes to German since their son expresses himself better in German.
“I am trying to provide the basics of Chinese culture and philosophy to my son so he can be Chinese,” Mr. Wu said. “But he lives here, he needs to speak perfect German. He likes China, but he feels less in the home there than I actually do.”
Mr. Wu, 50, came to Germany in 1984 from Zhejiang. He frequently laughs, the type of laugh of a man still amused by their own good fortune. He earned a college degree here in engineering but left school and opened 德国亚超 which he said was just like a thousand other Chinese restaurants.
1 day in 1995, he saw a leaflet about wine. He was interested, so he went out and bought 10 cases, all Bordeaux, thinking he could sell the wines within his restaurant. He never sold one bottle because the expensive wine failed to interest customers looking for chop suey. So he took the wine home, got a new reference guide and drank and studied his approach to expertise. In 2003 he met a Chinese businessman who asked him to look into German wine easily obtainable in China.