Dorthe Lange, the newly appointed Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Denmark in China, had barely made it out of her three-week isolation period before she had to go on stage in front of some of the most famous stars of the Chinese film industry. Dressed to kill, the diplomat accepted nothing short of two film awards on behalf of the Danish movie director Bille August for his movie “Pagten”.
“It was somewhat of a baptism of fire but a very big experience,” Dorthe Lange told the Danish daily JydskeVestkysten in an interview about her new assignment.
For Dorthe Lange, 41, it has always been a dream to see the world. She has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark since 2007 and in her career, she has been working abroad in many different places. Even though receiving movie awards was extraordinary it is a typical part of the ambassador job having to attend to all kinds of different and versatile tasks.
The variety of the job is one of the things she likes about the work.
“It is really a versatile job. One day I’m doing a speech for the opening of a big wind conference in China and the next day I’m flying to XI’an, another big city in China, to talk with the airport authority there. They are about to make a big expansion and we know a big Danish company which maybe can provide the right solutions for them,” Dorthe explains.
A life abroad
Dorthe Lange has had a big desire to leave her home city of Esbjerg ever since high school. After graduating she went travelling the world and as a part of this trip she spent a month in China a country that she got very interested in after reading the “Wild Swans” book.
“Already during the trip it was obvious how much had happened since the Mao era. Chinas riveting economical development was already in progress. So much has happened to China so fast and it is really fascinating, I think,” Dorthe says.
In her new job Dorthe has a great opportunity to experience this development on close hand while at the same time trying to promote a Danish influence on the development
One objective that has top priority in this respect is the green transition that she is trying to push for in China, who is the biggest CO2 emitter in the world.
“We are working to get the story about the Danish green transition out in the Chinese medias and on social medias to create awareness of Danish companies, products and solutions. For the Danish companies it is also vital that we can bring them out to the Chinese provinces and through the access we possess as a Danish embassy can put them in connection with policymakers that they otherwise would have had trouble reaching,” Dorthe explains.
When cultures meet
There are some significant cultural differences between Denmark and China that are important to be aware of when working as a ambassador. As and example, it is very important how you communicate your messages.
“Where we in Denmark would give constructive feedback, you would instead have to contemplate a little more how you get your messages across down here and consider how big the gathering is that you are trying to do it in. It is important to be aware that the fear of losing face plays a big part in China,”
But these cultural clashes are also what Dorthe loves about the job.
“It really is an adventure both professionally and privately because it’s so much different than if it had been Germany for instance. But that’s also what’s exciting. To work in a different culture and try to understand where it is the Chinese people are coming from and why they do what they do and how to best cooperate with them,” Dorthe says.
Dorthe has also previously worked with the EU-delegation in Vienna and at the Danish Embassy in Afghanistan.