Highlights of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s Visit to Confucius Institute at the University of Al-Azhar, Indonesia

[Source]    Contributed by News Group of the Confucius Institute at the University of Al-Azhar [Time]    2011-04-29 18:45:01 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao joins students in singing an Indonesian folk song called "Ayo Mama" during his visit in the Universitas Al Azhar Indonesia (University of Al Azhar Indonesia) in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia on April 29th. Photographed by Yao Dawei, reporter from Xinhua News Agency

Premier Wen Jiabao greeting Confucius Institute students’ performance with warm applause

Al-Azhar students performing a traditional welcome dance—the Saman dance

“I am pleased to see that the University of Al-Azhar has established a partnership with China’s Fujian Normal University and students here have started learning Chinese language. I believe that the university will gain a better understanding of China through close contact with its Chinese counterparts.”—from Premier Wen Jiabao’s speech at the Confucius Institute at the University of Al-Azhar

Jakarta, April 29th—H.E. Mr. Wen Jiabao, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Premier of the State Council of China, paid a visit to the Confucius Institute co-established by Fujian Normal University and the University of Al-Azhar, held cordial talks with its students and presented the Institute with Chinese teaching materials and Chinese cultural experience equipment.

The auditorium on the 3rd floor was decorated with red lanterns and exquisite Chinese knots, creating a strong atmosphere of Chinese culture. The whole campus was bathed in a sea of joy about the news of Premier Wen’s visit. Located in the downtown area of Jakarta, the University is a well-known comprehensive institution of higher learning and is also the host of the first Confucius Institute set up by Hanban in Indonesia in last November.

At 9:30 a.m. local time, Premier Wen arrived at the university and received a warm welcome from Dr. Ir. Mohammad Nuh,the Minister of Education of Indonesia, Prof. Dr. Ir. Zuhal, M.Sc. EE, the President of Al-Azhar University, Hanban Director-General Xu Lin, the Party Committee Secretary of Fujian Normal University Luo Ying as well as Al-Azhar University teachers and students. On either side of the academic building, students of the university’s art group were performing traditional Indonesian dances and dozens of other students dressed in traditional Indonesian costumes waved Chinese and Indonesian national flags to welcome Premier Wen. The premier smiled and waved to the welcoming people. Guided by President Zuhal, Premier Wen was escorted by the passionate teachers and students to the auditorium.

The packed auditorium was in an uproar over the arrival of Premier Wen and the expectant teachers and students welcomed the premier with prolonged applause. Premier Wen nodded and smiled to the excited crowds and shook hands with some of them. Pictures of China’s Great Wall and Indonesia’s National Independence Monument were presented on a large screen hanging in front of the auditorium, showing the intentions for the two Asian countries to work together to promote common development.

President Zuhal delivered a welcome speech on behalf of his teachers and students. He reviewed the development of the university’s cooperation and exchanges with Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters and Fujian Normal University, and extended his gratitude to the Chinese government for setting up a Confucius Institute at his school. He stated that the university will do its utmost to support the Confucius Institute and ensure that the Institute will play an active role in boosting cultural exchanges between the two countries and deepening mutual understanding of the two peoples.

Amidst the vigorous sound of drums and high-spirited singing, performers dressed in colorful costumes performed the Tari Saman dance, a kind of traditional dance originating from Sumatra, to welcome the honored guests from China. Afterward, 22 students of the Confucius Institute’s Chinese Chorus recited and sang famous poet Li Bai’s “Leaving White Emperor Town at Dawn”. The charm of classical poem was full demonstrated through their standard recitation and elegant singing. Premier Wen, who has always had a passion for ancient Chinese poetry, listened with interest to the recitation, smiling and nodding to show his appreciation.

Following the recitation, one member of the Chorus invited Premier Wen in Chinese to join them in singing an Indonesian folk song entitled “Ayo Mama”. The premier gladly accepted the invitation and went up on stage to sing the well-known song along with the students wearing bright yellow traditional costumes and dark yellow scarfs. Accompanied by a cheerful melody, the singing echoed in the auditorium. The premier’s devotion and friendliness left a deep impression on everyone and won rounds of cheers and applause. After the singing, Premier Wen remained standing among the students and delivered a speech. With a short history of just 11 years, the University of Al-Azhar has achieved great success in combining the dissemination of Islamic doctrine with teaching modern science and knowledge effectively, which serves as a way to teach students how to live, how to behave and how to work for the people, he said. At present, there are about 20 million people of different nationalities who practice Islam in China, he added. He said that he has read the Koran and thought that the Islamic faith teaches people to seek world peace, social harmony and harmonious relationships. “In this way, the world will live as one,” he stressed.

Various ethnic and religious groups make the world colorful; every nation should respect different ethnic groups and religions and these various ethnic groups and religions should also respect each other because they enjoy perfect equality, Premier Wen continued. “I feel at home at your university, where a majority of people believe in Islam.” The premier’s remarks closed the distance between them.

Religion is also a kind of culture and culture has always been open and inclusive, Premier Wen said. “I am pleased to see that the University of Al-Azhar has established a partnership with China’s Fujian Normal University and students here have started learning Chinese language. I believe that the university will gain a better understanding of China through close contact with its Chinese counterparts,” he went on. “We welcome you to come to China, just as if it were your own home,” Premier Wen extended an invitation to the students, which also drew warm applause.

“I like to stand because standing makes my speech more powerful,” Premier Wen finally added. His humor made the audience break into understanding smiles.

During the following interactive session, a student called Mia, who is studying at Fujian Normal University under the Confucius Institute scholarship, put forward the first question: “Hello, Premier Wen. I have been to Beijing and Shanghai during my stay in China and I like the two cities very much. Here is my question: where have you been in Indonesia and what impressed you most?”

Premier Wen answered that he has been to Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Bali and he was deeply impressed by Indonesian people’s indomitable spirit during the Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami in 2005. Indonesia boasts a vast land area and long coastline and is known as the Emerald of the Equator, Premier Wen added. He expressed hope that he could visit more places in this country in the future.

The second question came from a Confucius Institute student called Hanum, who is also studying in China. “Hello Grandpa Wen. We all know that China has a vast territory, long history and colorful culture. Please tell us how to learn more about various aspects of China through learning the Chinese language.”

Premier Wen answered that it is not easy to get to know the realities of China, because the country has a profound civilization of over five thousand years, but the students’ recitation of “Leaving White Emperor Town at Dawn” provided him with a clue, namely “going ahead bravely, miracles and achievements are waiting for you”. He encouraged the students to come to China and learn with their brains, hearts and feet so as to get to know the real China and to be a bridge of the Sino-Indonesian friendship.

“Hello Premier Wen. Everyone says that youth are the future of a country. What’s your expectation for both Indonesia and Chinese college students?” Retno Pratami, a junior from the Chinese language department put forward the 3rd question.

Premier Wen said that young people are the rising stars and also the future of a nation. A nation can overcome all difficulties and become strong and prosperous only when its young people are equipped with knowledge and skills, while maintaining their physical fitness. This remains true for both Chinese and Indonesian young people. The exchange between youth of both sides lays down the foundation and determines the future of the bilateral friendship. The relationship between the two nations will remain friendly forever only when the youngsters live in harmony with each other. The future of bilateral friendship lies in the hands of the youth of the two countries. He expressed his hope that the young people would cherish their precious time and work hard to serve their nations and people.

Finally, Premier Wen presented President Zuhal with a batch of Chinese teaching materials and Chinese culture experience equipment, and extended his gratitude to the Chinese Directors of 5 Confucius Institutes and volunteer Chinese teachers, encouraging them to continue to make great contributions to the Sino-Indonesian friendship and cultural exchanges.

Contributed by News Group of the Confucius Institute at the University of Al-Azhar