Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao attends the opening ceremony of the 2014 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa and gives speech

[Source]    Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) [Time]    2014-07-11 14:01:32 

On June 24, the 2014 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, in company with Tanzanian Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal, attended and addressed the opening ceremony. Other attendees included Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Director General of Hanban Madam Xu Lin, Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Lv Youqing, Vice Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam Prof. Rwekaza S. Mukandala, President of Zhejiang Normal University Wu Fengmin and representatives of 35 Confucius Institutes and 4 Confucius Classrooms from 28 countries in Africa, Chinese embassies in Africa and local social organizations and institutions with Chinese capital.

On June 24, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao addressing the opening ceremony of the 2014 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

In his opening speech, Mr. Li said that as one of the ancient cultures in the world, Chinese culture can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. Over the past 30 years of reform and opening up, Chinese culture has quickened its steps to spread around the world, which closes the distance between Chinese people and people from the rest of the world, in particular people in Africa. In 2013, more than 1.5 million Chinese tourists chose Africa as their destination, and several Chinese TV series were introduced into Africa and very well-received by local audience. In recent years, more and more Africans have gone to China for study and work: the number of African students studying in China has grown at a rate of over 30 percent annually; African singer Uwechue Emmanuel, known as Hao Ge in China, once performed in the CCTV Spring Festival Gala; and many African footballers choose to pursue their careers in China. Mr. Li added that exchanges and mutual learning can enrich and diversify a culture. In the context of globalization, Chinese culture should keep pace with the times to meet the needs of modernization and embrace the world and the future. It needs to go global in more diverse forms and with more popular contents and exchanges with other cultures, thus eventually promoting the prosperity and advancement of human civilization.

On June 24, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao and Tanzanian Vice President Bilal attending the opening ceremony of the 2014 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa in Dar es Salaam

Mr. Li explained that the reason why Confucius Institutes are named after Confucius, a great Chinese thinker and educator over 2,000 years ago, is that this name not only is so distinctively Chinese but also embodies the wish to strengthen cultural exchanges between China and other countries and to build and inherit friendships between the Chinese people and other peoples. Since 2005 when the first Confucius Institute opened in Nairobi, Kenya, 38 Confucius Institutes and 10 Confucius Classrooms have been established in 32 African countries. Mr. Li hopes that Confucius Institutes in Africa will make a concerted effort to serve as a bridge for China-Africa exchanges and cooperation. He put forward four suggestions. First, Confucius Institutes in Africa should uninterruptedly innovate and improve Chinese language teaching methods to fit into the needs of local learners; second, Confucius Institutes in Africa should be aimed at serving cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and Africa, so they should not only promote Chinese culture but also carry forward African culture, and only in this way can the two both develop; and third, they should strive to make themselves a part of local communities by providing local people with both Chinese language courses and necessary vocational training, thus helping them start their own business or find a job.

Mr. Li pointed out that Confucius Institutes should also introduce Chinese culture, history, thought and customs besides the language. He hopes that apart from the practical use of the language, the Chinese culture, historical stories, the connotative philosophy behind it as well as Chinese traditions should also be taught. For instance, when explaining the character ‘和 (he)’ ‘harmony’ to students, teachers may relate the traditional Chinese story of ‘和为贵 (he wei gui)’ ‘harmony is most precious’, mention the history of ‘协和万邦 (xie he wan bang)’ ‘achieving universal peace’, expound the philosophy of ‘和而不同 (he er bu tong)’ ‘harmony without uniformity’ and introduce China’s foreign policy of ‘和平友好 (he ping you hao)’ ‘peace and amity’; or when explaining the character ‘鱼 (yu)’ ‘fish’, teachers may extend a bit to introduce its corresponding derivative verb ‘渔 (yu)’ ‘to fish’ as well as the related proverb of ‘授人以鱼不如授人以渔 (shou ren yi yu bu ru shou ren yi yu)’ ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’, which happens to be the most popular Chinese philosophy that goes around Africa.

Mr. Li noted that the prospect and the future of China-Africa friendship lie in the youth, so he truly hopes that more African young people will go to learn Chinese at Confucius Institutes, where they can also feel the charm of Chinese culture, befriend many Chinese and eventually become preservers, inheritors and promoters of generations of friendship between China and Africa.

Li Yuanchao gives speech on the Opening Ceremony of the Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa

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