Chen Zhili: a successful example of international Chinese language promotion and Chinese-foreign cultural exchanges – to the 10th anniversary of the Confucius Institute

[Source]    Renmin Daily [Time]    2015-02-05 16:46:39 

Confucius Institutes: significance and influence

It is a move of great significance to establish Confucius Institutes worldwide in that it exerts a far-reaching influence on Chinese language teaching and cultural exchanges with the rest of the world.

Confucius Institutes fuel Chinese language learning by satisfying the objective need of people worldwide to study the Chinese language. A wave of “Chinese Language Fever” is sweeping across the world. To date, 2,500-odd universities and tens of thousands of primary and middle schools in over 100 countries and regions have provided Chinese language courses. In some countries, the government has added Chinese to the list of its strategic languages and has encouraged people to learn Chinese. Over 60 countries have already incorporated Chinese teaching into their national education systems.

“Chinese Bridge”, a large-scale international competition organized by Hanban, has been successfully held for 13 consecutive years. Up to now, accumulated 400,000-plus college students throughout the world have participated in this competition. In recent years, the Confucius Institute Headquarters has invited a total of 1,300 principals of primary and middle schools and people concerned from over 90 countries to visit China, trained 6,000-odd foreign Chinese language teachers and helped some 6,400 people come to China to study Chinese with financial aid. All these activities have further promoted Chinese learning on a global scale.

Confucius Institutes not only provide a new multi-faceted platform to promote exchanges between China and the rest of the world but make remarkable contributions to intercultural communication as well. Language is the most important carrier of culture. The Chinese language, as a carrier of Chinese history, culture and customs, is also infiltrated with Chinese philosophy and humanistic thoughts. Besides offering Chinese courses, Confucius Institutes also host various activities and lectures concerning Chinese culture, thus letting a larger number of foreigners get close to Chinese culture, understand Chinese philosophy and mindset, and experience the charisma of traditional Chinese culture, which enhances the attractiveness of Chinese culture.

As China’s comprehensive national strength has been constantly enhanced, it is imperative to make China better understood by other countries. Confucius Institutes play a unique role in this respect. If more foreigners understand Chinese, the status of Chinese will be raised in international communication and a solid foundation will be laid for them to gain a deeper insight into China. With the philosophy of “harmony” as the core, Confucius Institutes are devoted to introducing and explaining China to the rest of the world, hence enhancing the friendship between the Chinese and other peoples and clearing up the misunderstandings of China. Confucius Institutes all over the world have graduated into a marvelous platform for people-to-people exchange between China and foreign countries. Chinese language teachers and volunteers dispatched overseas showcase China’s image of a peaceful, open and civilized country by telling vivid stories about China in their face-to-face teaching classes.

Confucius Institutes have strengthened educational exchanges and cooperation between China and the rest of the world. As the result of the cooperation between Chinese universities and their foreign partner universities, Confucius Institutes have paved the way for domestic universities to establish international collaborative ties. This unique operational mode requires Chinese universities to dispatch Chinese teachers and management professionals to their partner universities, thus providing convenience for local residents to study Chinese and earning Chinese universities themselves an international reputation. During the cooperation, Chinese universities pay close attention to their partner universities’ school-running experience and by learning from it make great self-improvement. This cooperative mode greatly facilitates research, talent and discplinary exchanges between Chinese universities and their foreign partners.

Confucius Institutes have made active contributions to enhancing friendly ties between China and its foreign partners via serving China’s economic and social development and diplomatic affairs. With an easy, comfortable and natural vibe, they have become a new front for government diplomacy, public diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy. Statistics show that our Party and state leaders have participated in more than 200 Confucius Institute activities during their visits to foreign countries and more than 200 important foreign leaders have ever visited Confucius Institutes. Therefore, Confucius Institutes have tremendously promoted China’s international friendly cooperation with other countries.

The more people study and use Chinese, the more smooth and convenient the communication between the Chinese and foreign peoples will be and also the more wide-ranging and efficient the cross-border economic, trade and technological cooperation will become. According to the statistics of some countries, Confucius Institutes have commonly enhanced the economic and trade cooperation between the two places where the related two universities are located.

The global Chinese language promotion makes it very convenient for the Chinese to travel abroad and for foreigners to visit China. As a result, the tourism industry at home and abroad has been greatly boosted. Some foreign scholars note that since their birth, Confucius Institutes have contributed over three percent to the world tourism industry. Some students choose China as their study tour destination during vacations because they have studied Chinese, and their trips to China will in turn give them a golden opportunity to see the real China characteristic of being vibrant, enterprising, civilized and friendly, hence deepening their affection for China.

To sum up, Confucius Institutes, a shining symbol of China, have become veritable bridges of language, culture and heart-to-heart communication.

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