Facilitate the Integration of Confucius Institutes into Host Universities and Local Communities
- Keynote Speech delivered at the 7th Confucius Institute Conference by Liu Yandong

[Source]     [Time]    2012-12-18 19:05:03 

Ms. Liu Yandong, State Councilor of P. R. China and Chairwoman of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, delivering the keynote speech entitled “Facilitate the Integration of Confucius Institutes into Host Universities and Local Communities”

Editor’s Note:

At the opening ceremony of the 7th Confucius Institute Conference held in Beijing on December 16, 2012, Liu Yandong, State Councilor of P. R. China and Chairwoman of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, delivered the keynote speech entitled “Facilitate the Integration of Confucius Institutes into Host Universities and Local Communities”, which was highly recognized and praised by a total of more than 2000 participants in the conference who were university presidents and representatives from the Confucius Institutes in 108 countries and regions.

The following is the full text of the speech:

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Good evening!

Today, the 7th Confucius Institute Conference is grandly opened. After one year, I am glad to meet old and new friends from the Confucius Institutes across the world again. Your faces radiate an enthusiasm for the development of the Confucius Institutes. As I recall, back to 2006 when the first Confucius Institute Conference was held, only 400 delegates attended the conference. Today, the number of attendees exceeds 2,000, among which more than 1,100 are foreign delegates. This shows that the shared undertaking has engaged more committed souls. On behalf of the Chinese government and the Confucius Institute Headquarters, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the friends who have contributed to the development of Confucius Institutes across the world!

In recent years, on the occasions of the official visits abroad, I also visited many Confucius Institutes. A week ago, I visited the Confucius Institute at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where I was impressed by the brilliant cultural performance delivered in Chinese by the students. Many students of Confucius Institutes told me that the Chinese language is a window to understand the contemporary China and the ancient Chinese civilization, as well as oriental wisdom. The Confucius Institutes serve as a bridge for friendship and mutual understanding. I think this is the ultimate goal and the engine that sustains future development of Confucius Institutes across the world.

This year, we made new progress and new strides for Confucius Institutes. We added 42 new Confucius Institutes and 35 Confucius Classrooms in primary and secondary schools. The registered students amount to 650,000. The Confucius Institutes in various countries are becoming more professional both in terms of teaching and administration. The number of local Chinese teachers who come to study in China with a scholarship granted by Confucius Institutes has increased by 35% compared to that of the previous year. A growing number of multilingual and cultural teaching materials have been developed. Over 180 Confucius Institutes have completed quality evaluation and most of them are qualified. Many branded programs such as the Chinese Bridge Competition and the “Three Tours” (tours of lectures, exhibitions and performances about the Chinese culture) have attracted more than 10 million of participants. In particular, more than 300 Confucius Institutes have made their distinctive blueprints for the future development. For instance, over 200 Confucius Institutes including the Confucius Institutes at Blagoveschensk State Pedagogical University, Russia, the Middle East Technical University, Turkey, the University of Zimbabwe, and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have planned to establish training centers for local Chinese teachers in three to five years. The Confucius Institutes at the University of Maryland in the USA and Seoul National University, South Korea have proposed to establish regional HSK centers. The Confucius Institute for Business, London at the London School of Economics and Political Science in Britain, the Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan in USA, and the Confucius Institute in Bergen in Norway have focused on developing business Chinese, traditional Chinese medicine, music and martial arts respectively. The Confucius Institutes at Suez Canal University in Egypt, the University of Nairobi and the Universidad San Francisco, Ecuador have combined Chinese language teaching with vocational education, thus providing a talent pool for local enterprises. The Confucius Institutes at the University of California in USA, the University of Edinburgh in UK, the University of Rome in Italy, Heidelberg University in Germany, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and Waseda University in Japan have built a complete Chinese diploma system that covers undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate programs, and they have implemented the “Confucius China Study Plan”. All these achievements in the past year have been a result of efforts of university presidents, the Council members of each and every Confucius Institute, as well as Chinese and foreign directors of Confucius Institutes. So, here, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last month, China held the 18th National Congress of the CPC, where a new team of central party leaders were generated and the blueprint and roadmap for the development of the successive five years were released. It was pointed out that by 2020 a well-off society shall be created while GDP and disposable income shall double that of 2010. In 30 years when the P. R. China celebrates its 100th anniversary of founding, China will be built as a wealthy, powerful, democratic, highly-civilized, harmonious and modern socialist country. The development of China relies on the rest of the world, and the world’s development is supported by China. The hard-working Chinese people will try to create a better life and also contribute to the prosperity of the world. Holding high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, China will stick to the path of peaceful development, to grace the awareness of “shared destiny of all countries” and also to respect the cultural diversity and diversified development paths. We are going to cooperate with and benefit from each other and jointly promote the development of human civilization. The Confucius Institutes are a good platform for and a bridge between China and other countries. The Chinese government will continue to promote cultural exchanges and support Confucius Institutes, so as to laying a solid people foundation for friendship and cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As the conference is themed on “Facilitate the Integration of Confucius Institutes into Host Universities and Local Communities”, the message is clearly conveyed. It reminds me of a Greek myth. The heroic Antaeus is the son of the earth. Only when he is physically connected to the earth, will he have endless power. The Confucius Institutes should provide services to people of local schools and community only by being rooted in local communities and universities. As such, they will be warmly welcomed by the people of all countries and will always be vigorous.

Last year, the Confucius Institute Headquarters have invited experts and directors to figure out how to develop Confucius Institutes better. We have reached consensus in various terms.

First, the international Chinese language education and cultural exchanges will be the core tasks of Confucius Institutes. Scientific positioning shall be provided; Chinese language teaching shall serve as the main task; cultural exchange platform shall be made into full use; and these will serve the social and economic development, contribute to friendship and cooperation between China and other countries, as well as promote exchanges in terms of cultural diversity.

Second, it’s our endless pursuit to provide better services to the students. We will try to integrate into the national educational system of every country and to combine the development of Confucius Institutes with student’s career development and with the students’ studying in China. Confucius Institutes should be rooted in universities and communities and help the students to benefit more.

Third, quality is the lifeline of the development of Confucius Institutes. Confucius Institutes should cater to the characteristics of local students and their diversified needs, and focus on improving teaching materials, methodologies, training qualified teachers, engaging more students, and advancing the development of the Confucius Institutes.

Fourth, cooperation with different countries is the institutional guarantee for Confucius Institutes. Our experience has shown that with our concerted efforts problems were better solved. We will continue to rely on government support, local community participation and the efforts of private sector. Education facilities will be jointly built by China and local hosts, who will benefit from the fruitions of the win-win cooperation.

Fifth, featured education programs serve as effective ways to expand the local influence of Confucius Institutes. We will develop most Confucius Institutes into the centers for local Chinese language teaching, faculty training and Chinese proficiency tests. For some Confucius Institutes, they can carry out the advanced Chinese language teaching and contemporary China studies. Also, we will encourage Confucius Institutes to set up programs featuring business Chinese, traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese literature, martial arts, Chinese cuisine and tourism. We will support developing countries to combine Chinese language teaching with vocational training.

To this end, the Confucius Institute Headquarters will implement seven key projects next year. First, teacher training centers will be created; support will be provided for Chinese universities and their foreign counterparts in setting up Chinese language teaching discipline; and efforts will be intensified in training local teachers. Second, we will establish a talent pool for Chinese volunteers and overseas internship system for the MTCSOL (Master of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages). Third, we will initiate international Chinese teaching materials projects and establish the steering committee of Chinese language teaching materials and expert panel to support schools and publishing houses to develop multilingual Chinese teaching materials and establish resource databases. Fourth, we will establish the Confucius Institute Online to provide a digital platform for disseminating the Chinese language and culture, helping students in other countries to learn Chinese online through their mother languages. Fifth, we will implement the “Confucius China Study Plan” to foster a new generation of Sinologists. Sixth, we will establish a group of outstanding Confucius Institutes, who will demonstrate the best practices to others. Seventh, we will improve the brand of Confucius Institutes by expanding outreach programs such as the Chinese Bridge Competition, the Three Tours, Overseas Principal’s Tour to China, and summer (or winter) camps. The implementation of these programs will bring substantial benefits to Confucius Institutes in the world.

In the Book of Changes, there are two famous sayings, and here I quote the first: “As heaven maintains vigor through movements, a gentle man should constantly strive for self-perfection”. I sincerely hope that we can work together and make the Confucius Institutes better. The other saying is “As earth's condition is receptive devotion, a gentle man should hold the outer world with broad mind”. I hope we can be inclusive and draw on each other’s strength, enhance mutual understanding and friendship, and contribute to world peace and human progress.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

As the New Year is approaching, I am so delighted that every year I have the opportunity to wish you a happy new year face to face. So, here, I sincerely would like to ask you to send my greetings to the faculty and students of the 400 Confucius Institutes and 535 Confucius Classrooms. I wish you a happy new year, sound health, and a lovely family. I hope everything goes well with you all.

Thank you!