Mdm. Xu Lin: Confucius Institutes boosts the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative
On September 7th and 8th, the 2015 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Europe was convened in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. While attending the conference, Mdm. Xu Lin, Director General of Hanban and Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters, expressed her hopes that this Conference could inject new vitality to Confucius Institutes so as to boost the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative and facilitate the cultural and people-to-people exchange and economic and trade cooperation between China and countries along the Belt (Silk Road Economic Road) and the Road (Maritime Silk Road).
During the conference, a total of over 100 delegates from 50 Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in 22 European countries conducted discussions on a variety of topics like the future development of the Confucius Institute and how to promote the exchange and cooperation between China and other countries in the world, with a special focus on how to promote the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative. The delegates believed that enhanced cultural exchange and cooperation is the foundation pivotal to the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative and the mission of the Confucius Institute is to help people all over the world learn Chinese language, understand Chinese culture and strengthen friendship between people in China and other countries. Thus, the Confucius Institute and the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative do serve many shared purposes.
Mdm. Xu Lin said that the vast majority of Chinese and foreign university presidents and Confucius Institute directors attending this conference were from the countries along the Belt or the Road, so we hope that the Confucius Institutes could support this strategy, for example, by training personnel for the economic development of these countries. Some Confucius Institutes have already taken actions and discussed how to gear personnel training toward the development of the infrastructure, communications and transportation related to the strategy.
Delegates of the conference also offered their practical suggestions for how Confucius Institutes could facilitate the implementation of the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative and how to promote the exchange in all fields between China and European countries. As CPC Party Secretary of Beijing Foreign Studies University, which co-established more Confucius Institutes around the world than any other university, Mr. Han Zhen said in an interview that it might be better to consider how the Confucius Institute could assist the strategy from the perspective of policies of foreign countries.
Speaking at the conference, the Sinologist Richárd Mohr from the University of Szeged in Hungary said that the Confucius Institute could offer enterprise training, business training or customized language training. As Europe has an increasingly popular tourist destination among the Chinese, the Confucius Institute could play an important role in training tour guides, compiling travel books, and so forth. In addition, the Confucius Institute can engage more in the establishment of sister cities.
The delegates agreed that the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative would bring many development opportunities to countries along the Belt and the Road, so the Confucius Institutes in these countries should do their part to support the strategy. Ms. Sylwia Witkowska, Polish Director of the Confucius Institute at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, said that as an opportunity not to miss out, the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative brings many benefits to Poland. Therefore, the Confucius Institute should be more actively engaged in this strategy and serve as a “bridge” to facilitate its implementation.
When interviewed, Mdm. Xu Lin said that the Confucius Institute is a platform for dialogues between China and other countries. She believes that as time goes on, the Confucius Institute will play a greater part in the development of the countries along the Belt and the Road.