These Germans Believe They Are Chinese, The Qing Dynasty Lives On

The story about a town of Germans who believe they are Chinese went viral on Chinese social media. According to this post, the Qing dynasty lives on in Dietfurt, Germany. Here’s what they had to say about it:

Qing Dynasty not dead yet? This group of Germans firmly believe that they are Chinese, living life in Qing Dynasty

Bavaria , Germany’s largest state. As one of the richest places in Europe, it’s known for beer, BMW, Bayern, Adidas and beautiful women.

But in the midst of this proud German state, a bunch of “traitors” appears among them.

In the small town of Dietfurt,  its few thousand residents do not take their German identity, but openly claim to be Chinese.

Every February and March, the “FuGao Emperor” would be dressed in emperor’s robes and carried around town in a litter surrounded by his “eunuchs” and his “imperial escorts”.

Thus begins the five days of “Chinese Carnival”

Following the emperor are the dragon dance and lion dance teams along with other town citizens dressed as a variety of noblewoman and warriors of the Qing dynasty. Chinese flags line the sides of the street. Spectators of the event are also wearing Qing Dynasty clothing, Chinese straw hats. Even their faces are painted in Chinese opera masks and Fu Manchu beards…

The Qing Dynasty has fallen for more than a hundred years. Except in Hengdian (the worlds largest film studio and home to many Chinese period dramas), where else would you see such a grand spectacle? For Chinese people who arrived at the scene, they’d inevitably be bewildered and wonder: has the remnants of the Qing dynasty all immigrated to Germany?

Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that these people dressed as if they are in a TV production of Qing dynasty period drama are all actually pure blooded Europeans with blond hair and blue eyes. Ninety percent of them don’t even know how to say “hello” or “thank you” in Chinese.

Even so, these Germans are proud to be “Bavarian Chinese”.  They admire Chinese culture and there are several Chinese museums and Chinese schools in the town. Even if no one speaks Chinese, Chinese is still the local “official language.”

Take this Chinese Carnival for example. Soaked in Chinese culture, this celebration is not directed by Chinese people, nor is it a large scale cosplay convention. This is actually the local culture born of this land. 

Every year, the Chinese Carnival begins at 2 am on the first day. The children dress up as colorful clowns and parade through the streets sounding gongs and drums. They wake the entire city  declaring:

“Today we are all Chinese!”

Following this declaration, all traffic stops in town and the townsfolk put on their makeup and get dressed up.

At exactly 13:61 (the locals deliberately chose this confusing time), the Chinese Carnival officially starts. When the people hear the gongs and drums of the imperial army, everyone shouts in an atrocious attempt at Chinese: “Fu Gao Emperor!”

The great emperor, dressed like a bridegroom, would pays tribute to the spectators from his three-tiered litter.


After the parade, “Gao Fu Emperor” will even read out a “Edict to the Citizens” from his “Imperial Palace” and pray for good weather and peace and good will in the coming year. 

Afterwards, the live band would even play the “Bavarian Chinese National Anthem”, a song which neither Chinese nor Germans could understand.

Under the sound of a gongs and drums and firecrackers, residents now flock to restaurants and bars for five days of continuous celebration. As for whether they are drinking Qingdao (Chinese beer) or Erguotou (Chinese Baijiu), we don’t know.

Apparently, to the Bavarian Chinese, the Chinese Carnival is a more important holiday than even Christmas.

As to why these German townsfolk proclaim themselves to be “Chinese” – there are two explanations.


1: In the Middle Ages, the church instituted heavy taxes which the townsfolk couldn’t afford. When the tax collector arrived, all the town’s residents left their homes and hid at the base of the city wall. The Church ridiculed the town for it’s behavior, describing them as Chinese people hiding behind the Great Wall to escape an foreign invasion. News of this joke got back to Dietfurt, rather than be ashamed, the local residents took up the Chinese name with pride antagonize the church.

2: A few hundred years ago, the town began trading with China. In exchange for local silver and handcrafted goods, they received Chinese silk, porcelain, and tea. As they did more business and had more contact with China, their love of Chinese goods evolved into a passion for Chinese culture. From the pieces of culture they gleaned from trade interactions, they pieced together the “Chinese Carnival” celebrating the China they loved in their imaginations.

The latter explanation is more believable. Judging by the way people dress up in the Chinese Carnival, Chinese culture has already reach Germany in the Kangxi (4th Qing emperor) era. From the beginning, the townsfolk all wore fake Chinese style clothing and learned to eat rice with chopsticks. Even back in 1860 of the old Chinese calendar, Dietfurt had been proclaimed to be Chinese. 


Soon, they couldn’t get enough of Chinese culture. by 1928, the locals promptly changed their traditional Catholic Carnival to the first ever “Chinese Carnival” — even though at that time the Qing dynasty has been over for more than a dozen years.

“FuGao Emperor” is Dietfurt’s tenth emperor. This year will celebrate the 18th anniversary of his ascension to the throne.  During the five days of the Chinese Carnival, even the local mayor calls himself a “minister of the emperor” and bows to him.

Here, the emperor’s reign is lifelong, but the emperor is not chosen base on heredity.  Instead the emperor is randomly selected among the people. For example,

Emperor FuGao himself was an ordinary citizen who was smashed at random by a Golden Egg during the festival after the last emperor’s death .

The annual Chinese Carnival also has a theme. For example, the theme in 2006 was “Finding a concubine for the Emperor,” but really it was just a local beauty pageant.

“Chinese Carnival” is a unique celebration in Bavaria. Because Germans won’t celebrate this holiday, and even more so, Chinese people won’t either, each year only 20-30,000 visitors would flock to this small town of only around 6000 people to watch the spectacle.

The last emperor of the Qing dynasty probably would never have thought that his once great Qing Dynasty would reappear in such an imaginative and dramatic way tens of thousands of miles from home.

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