2012 European Confucius Institutes (Classrooms) Working Symposium Opened in Edinburgh
CRI Online (Reporter Zhang Zhe stationed in the UK): the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh, one of the earliest European Confucius Institutes, witnessed the gathering of representatives from European Confucius Institutes for 2012 European Confucius Institutes (Classrooms) Working Symposium on June 6 local time.
Chinese and foreign directors of 75 Confucius Institutes and representatives of 15 Confucius Classrooms from 26 European countries, and representatives from 15 Chinese partner colleges and universities took part in the Symposium. First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond addressed the Opening Ceremony that morning, saying that the establishment of Confucius Institutes provides Scottish students with an opportunity to further understand China, which he highly welcomes and embraces. "Last year, Confucius Institutes sponsored the largest competition in Scotland, enabling students of various schools in Scotland to analyze and touch upon topics related to contemporary China. As China witnesses ever growing importance in the world, it's critical for every young student in Scotland to gain access to rich Chinese culture and language and understand contemporary China. Confucius Institutes helped them make that happen. And Support from the leadership of Hanban matters a lot to the growth of Confucius Institutes."
Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming noted in his remarks that the development of Confucius Institutes has entered into a new stage. "For now, the development of Confucius Institutes has moved from quantity increase to quality improvement. Currently, Confucius Institutes are working to achieve sustainable development instead of rapid growth, which challenges us to: improve management, enhance training of local teaching force, share resources and experience and improve teaching quality in an effort to cultivate more outstanding students."
Principal of the University of Edinburgh Timothy Michael Martin O'Shea indicated that universities play an important role in boosting friendly exchanges between peoples worldwide, and the University of Edinburgh is blessed with a fine and time-honored tradition of engaging in exchanges with China. "We are proud that we welcomed the first Chinese student studying in a European university. Back in 1857, Huang Kuan was graduated from the Department of Medicine, the University of Edinburgh and returned to China. He brought with him western medicine to China and cultivated the first generation of doctors. Exchanges as such have developed to a point of establishing mutually beneficial links with universities in China, such as joint education, exchanges and joint research, among others."
Zhu Zhiwen, Chairman of the Fudan University Council, Chinese partner of the University of Edinburgh, pointed out that thanks to the cooperation between the two universities in the past 11 years, the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh has emerged as one of the most outstanding Confucius Institutes in the world. Going forward, Fudan University will take new steps to boost cooperation with institutes of higher education in the rest of the world. " In order to promote communication and cooperation between Fudan and other world-renowned universities, and facilitate the communication and development of diverse cultures across the world, on top of running Confucius Institutes well, we are gearing up for the establishment of the International Center for Studies of Chinese Civilization (ICSCC) at Fudan University and its overseas branches, which will invite exceptional sinologists in the world to engage in cooperation and studies, publish Chinese culture classics, and promote the development of platform for Sino-foreign academic exchanges. In the meantime, we also strive to establish Overseas Center for Studies on Contemporary China of Fudan University, providing a window for overseas scholars engaging in Chinese studies into China and establishing a platform for interdisciplinary studies."
Mdm. Xu Lin, Counselor of the State Council, Director-General of Hanban and Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters, delivered a keynote speech at the Opening Ceremony. She confirmed what European Confucius Institutes have achieved: 9 Confucius Institutes in Europe were rated as Confucius Institute of the year in 2011, ranking top among all regions in the world; as of the end of April 2012, 34 countries and regions in Europe operate 129 Confucius Institutes and 104 Confucius Classrooms; Chinese teaching has scored evident results in European Confucius Institutes with the number of students increasing on a yearly basis; while engaging in Chinese language teaching, they've hosted rich cultural events, contributing to the expansion of the Institute’s social influence.
Mdm. Xu also hoped that attendees can shed lights on four issues at the Symposium. "First is the security of Confucius Institutes. We are unwilling to see many people misunderstanding Confucius Institutes. Second is the development plan and what do you hope the Headquarters to do. Third, how to combine self-assessment with appraisal, and what contents will be added or moved away in the new contract five years later. Fourth, China Study Plan. While jointly cultivating PhDs, we will support those with better sinology background in Europe to engage in Chinese studies, and narrow the gap of Chinese universities in such fields as Chinese studies, humanities and social sciences. In particular, we need to learn from Europe in terms of Chinese studies."
It's reported that as of the end of April 2012, altogether 129 Confucius Institutes and 104 Confucius Classrooms have been running in 34 countries and regions in Europe. Thanks to the concerted efforts made by China and its foreign counterparts, European Confucius Institutes have developed on a sound and stable track and opened a development path suitable for local demands with distinctive features while promoting Chinese language and culture.