Work together to Promote the Cultural Communication and Mutual Learning between China and Africa

[Source]    Confucius Institute Headquaters (Hanban) [Time]    2014-07-11 11:24:13 

Speech on the Opening Ceremony of the Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa

(June 24th, 2014)

Li Yuanchao

Your Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania,

Respected Vice Chancellor Rwekaza S. Mukandala, and Presidents from African and Chinese Universities;

The Honorable Madame Xu Lin, Other distinguished guests, and teachers and students,

It is my great pleasure to attend the Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa at the University of Dar es Salaam. The opening remarks were full of African characteristics, and the performances by the students were full of Chinese cultural elements. On the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the founding of this Confucius Institute, on behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to convey my sincere greetings to teachers and students at the conference, and express my heartfelt gratitude to all African friends who have greatly supported the development of Confucius Institutes!

Confucius is a great thinker and educator of more than two thousand years ago. He lived in an era that hundreds of schools of thoughts thrived. The Chinese civilization boasts a history of more than 5000 years; it is one of the most important sources of world civilization. The Four Great Inventions of ancient China, namely, paper-making , compass, gunpowder and printing, greatly contributed to the progress of human civilization. Historically, the Silk Road linked Asia and Europe, and the fleet led by Zheng He reached as far as Africa. China exported not only silk and chinaware, but also Chinese values and concepts such as “harmony is precious”, “respect for rituals and cultures”, and “prioritizing values over material gains”. In the past three decades of reform and opening up, the Chinese culture has become increasingly popular in many parts of the world, enriching the spiritual life of peoples in different countries and fostering friendship between the Chinese people and the rest of the world. The Chinese culture especially has brought the Chinese people and the African people closer. Last year, over 1.5 million Chinese tourists traveled to Africa. Many Chinese TV series are hit shows in African countries. The number of African students studying in China has been increasing at an annual average of over 30%. The African singer Uwechue Emmanuel was invited to the Chinese Spring Festival Gala, and many African football players have joined Chinese leagues. A culture is enriched through exchanges and mutual learning. In the context of globalization, The Chinese culture should orient itself toward modernization, the whole world, and the future, and it should go overseas in more diversified forms and with more popular contents, with a view toward promoting cultural diversity and inter-cultural exchanges.

Confucius Institutes are an important platform for exchanges between Chinese and foreign cultures. Named after Confucius, these institutes not only symbolize the distinctive Chinese culture, but also carry the good wishes of enhancing cultural exchanges and people-to-people friendship. Since 2004, 435 Confucius Institutes and 646 Confucius Classrooms have been established, with a total of more than 1 million students. The African continent has witnessed a rapid increase in the number of Confucius Institutes. The first Confucius Institute in Africa was established in Nairobi, Kenya in 2005. Currently there are 38 Confucius Institutes and ten Confucius Classrooms in 32 African countries. Confucius Institutes have served both to meet the increasing demands of people for learning Chinese and to promote mutual understanding between the Chinese people and other peoples. Confucius Institute is an important institution of cultural exchanges between China and Africa. It is the shared goal of the Chinese and African peoples to better develop the Confucius Institutes. We hope that Confucius Institutes in Africa will strive to become the bridge of friendship between China and Africa. First, they should cater to the specific demands of Chinese learning by people in different countries. More high quality Chinese teachers and volunteers will be sent abroad, and there should be more opportunities for foreign teachers and students to visit and learn in China, Second, these institutes should make full use of their advantages in promoting China-Africa cultural exchanges and mutual development; they are messengers of both Chinese and African cultures. Third, they should adapt to local communities by providing not only high quality Chinese teaching, but also vocational training, with a view toward helping local people create job opportunities..

I also would like to take this opportunity to say a few words to the teachers at Confucius Institutes.

Confucius Institute is an educational organization for teaching Chinese in foreign countries; it is also an important platform to introduce China to the world. Therefore, apart from teaching the Chinese language, it should also introduce to local people Chinese culture, history, thoughts, and customs. I hope that Confucius Institutes will follow three principles in teaching Chinese, that is, usefulness, history-based, and philosophy. Take the Chinese character “和”, or harmony, as an example. There is not only a story behind “harmony is previous”, but also the Chinese history of “all neighboring countries co-exist peacefully.” Moreover, it contains the Chinese philosophy of “diversity in harmony” and the Chinese foreign policy principle of “peace and friendship”. The Chinese character “鱼”, or fish, becomes a verb by adding three dots, meaning to fish. The idea that teaching a friend how to fish is more useful than giving him a fish is widely accepted in Africa when it comes to foreign development assistance. In one word, I hope that our Confucius Institutes not only teach the Chinese language, but also serve as a channel for foreign friends to know more about Chinese culture, history, and philosophy. These are the foundations for China’s friendly relations with other countries.

Most participants at the conference today are young people, and young people are bright, open, good at learning new knowledge, and willing to communicate with each other. You are the hope and future of China-Africa friendship. It is my sincere hope that more young friends from Africa will come to Confucius Institutes to learn Chinese, to appreciate the Chinese culture, to make Chinese friends, and to become ambassadors of China-Africa friendship.

Finally, on behalf of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, I would like to present 1,000 pieces of Chinese language teaching materials and Chinese culture readings to the Confucius Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam, and to invite 100 Tanzanian young students to come to China to participate in the 2014 Chinese Bridge summer camp.


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