Foreign envoys in China share opinions on “Cultural Exchanges and World Peace” at the celebration of 2nd “Open Day” by Confucius Institute Headquarters

[Source]    Hanban [Time]    2015-10-28 14:55:31 

On September 25th, the 2nd Confucius Institute Headquarters Open Day was successfully held. George N. Manongi, Minster Plenipotentiary of Tanzania Embassy to China; Katherine Vickers, Minister-Counsellor (Education and Research) of Australian Embassy to China; Victor Konnov, Cultural Counsellor of Russian Embassy to China; Marcin Grabiec, Cultural Counsellor of Delegation of the European Union to China were invited to attend an envoy forum on the theme of “Cultural Exchanges and World Peace”. Hosted by Mdm. Xu Lin, Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Director General of Hanban, this forum has seen an exchange of insightful ideas among the four speakers. The following is an excerpt of their speeches.

George N. Manongi: Normally seen as a “global village”, the present-day world has witnessed closer relations among different countries. Since cultures of different countries have their unique features, we should create a harmonious environment for them to co-exist with each other. In the process of cultural exchanges, cultures influence each other. This is a rather complicated process of accepting the good while rejecting the bad, just like a person chewing and digesting the food after eating it. Such a process not only enriches the culture of our own, but also creates world peace.

George N. Manongi, Minster Plenipotentiary of Tanzania Embassy to China

Ideas of peace differ from one person to another depending on their living environment and conditions. Those who grow up in war zones hope that there will be no wars; those who live in natural habitats wish to protect their habitats. These various understandings of peace enrich our human society. It is the people’s longing for and pursuit of peace that enable us to reduce crimes and bring more people out of poverty.

I firmly believe that cultural exchanges can promote peace. In many cases, conflicts are caused by cultural differences. Thus, we need to accept these differences and make constant efforts to understand others by comparing ourselves with them and learning from each other. I hope that our today’s events can promote cultural exchanges and world peace.

Katherine Vickers: Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms have been developing really fast in Australia. During her visit to Australia in 2015, Chinese Vice-Premier Mdm. Liu Yandong attended the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia and showed strong support for the Confucius Institute. Working as a member of the reception team, I felt deeply that cultural and people-to-people exchanges are of tremendous significance to the sound development of political, economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries, and greatly influence the dynamics of the Asia-Pacific region as well.

Katherine Vickers, Minister-Counsellor (Education and Research) of Australian Embassy to China

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges should be based on mutual understanding of each other’s cultures, which normally start from education, such as curriculum design, teacher training, and improved school managements. Chinese is a language of vital importance, and Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in Australia have enhanced our capacity in teaching Chinese, enabling us to build a better relationship with China. Since 1950s when the Chinese language was first taught in classrooms in Australia, on the basis of many years of experience, we have been developing teaching methods to address the special needs of learners at different levels. The Education Section of our Embassy is also involved in designing plans of Chinese language teaching in Australia, which I would like to invite Hanban and the Chinese government to participate in.

Secondary schools in Australia are administered by their respective states, so it is a challenge for teachers from other countries to teach Chinese at these schools. As a remarkable achievement of Hanban, Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms play a very significant role in training local Chinese language teachers, which successfully increases the number of Chinese language teachers in Australia. Since the first Confucius Institute was established at the University of Western Australia, Australia, with Hanban’s support, has established a total of 13 Confucius Institutes and 35 Confucius Classrooms, along with a number of affiliated teaching sites. We have a very small island to the south of South Australia, and university students on this island were invited by President Xi Jinping and his wife Madam Peng Liyuan to visit China. This morning when I called the university, they asked me to tell everyone that they were very proud of their achievements in learning Chinese.

In addition, centers for Australian studies in China play a similar role and help Chinese people better understand Australia. Currently, around 30 such centers have been established across China. I once visited such a center in Inner Mongolia and participated in their symposium on the theme of ethnic groups, culture, languages and aboriginal languages in Australia, which produced successful results.

Many Australians are very curious about China. Confucius Institutes plays a significant role in helping them get to know more about China, which is strong evidence that cultural exchanges can boost regional peace and development. Just as mentioned by our previous speaker, although we are different, we can always find similarities between us. To me, it is the spirit of the Confucius Institute that promotes the development of Chinese language teaching in Australia. Australian people always welcome the Confucius Institute.

Victor Konnov: My Chinese name is Kong Nuofu and, in this sense, I share the same family name with Confucius (Kongzi). Next Monday is the 2566th birthday of Confucius and also marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, which was established in 1925.

Victor Konnov, Cultural Counsellor of Russian Embassy to China

Today, a similar forum on world peace is also held at the Russian Cultural Center in Beijing, which was established five years ago based on the agreement between China and Russia. Missions of our Center include hosting exhibitions and performances, promoting the Russian language, helping Chinese students study in Russia, and offering services in scholarship application. We also work actively to promote the science and culture of Russia in China. Not long ago, we held a special event to make Chinese people know more about the late Russian astronaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin. We also provide assistance to the Russian citizens living in China and assist regions in Russia to establish ties with Chinese provinces or cities. Recently, we received an application from a Russian city to establish friendship with Heihe in China.

Another important mission for us is to enhance youth exchanges in fields of culture, society and science. Every year, the “Russian Science Day” is held in February and the “Day of International Graduates of Russian Universities” is held in November. In 1950s and 1960s, there were many Chinese studying in Russia. Recently, we invited over 400 of them to attend a celebration. Also, we hold the “Day of Russian Language” on June 6th every year, which is the birthday of the Russian poet Pushkin. We would like to welcome everyone to visit our Center.

Marcin Grabiec: With cultural relations undergoing constant changes in the present-day world, cultural exchanges not only show the advantages of various cultures, but also lead to mutual learning and innovation through cooperation and coordination. Given an increasing influence of cultural exchanges on international political and economic relations, civil societies and individual citizens are playing a more and more important role in this process.

Marcin Grabiec, Cultural Counsellor of Delegation of the European Union to China

The rest of the world has a keen interest in conducting cultural dialogues with Europe. For the European Union (EU), we need to establish a better mechanism based on our respect for values of different countries and by adopting higher strategic vision. The EU is planning to implement a forward-looking strategy on cultural diplomacy to complement economic collaboration and political dialogue. As an indispensable part of EU’s sustainable development, culture can promote economic growth. This also involves cultural heritage administration and cultural production and consumption. At the same time, cultural industry can also become the source of employment opportunities and massive output. We believe that a coordinated approach to investing in facilities and intangible resources will boost the sustainable development to a great extent.

In addition, culture is of pivotal significance in promoting sound governance, democratic progress and civil society. It is also important for the protection of cultural heritages. The recent destruction of many cultural heritages in Syria once again reminds us of the current lack of protection of these heritages across our world. The EU is making efforts to ban the selling and circulation of the cultural items illegally taken out of Syria and Iraq.

What efforts should be made to promote cultural cooperation between the EU and China? Several days ago, at the 3rd Meeting of the China-EU High Level People-to-People Dialogue held in Brussels, people-to-people exchange, political trust and economic cooperation constituted an important part of the China-EU strategic dialogue. Both sides agreed to further strengthen their cooperation in education, technology, culture, media, youth, women and tourism. With Hanban and Confucius Institutes as important partners, this dialogue has boosted exchanges between Chinese and European peoples.

Last year, around 250,000 Chinese students studied in EU countries and 40,000 European students studied in China. These numbers are still on the increase this year. Since European countries are considered as the most ideal destinations for Chinese students and tourists, the past five years have seen an increase of 25% in Chinese applications for Schengen visas.

Envoy Forum: Cultural Exchanges and World Peace

We hope to promote our collaborative programs in education, culture and research in the future so as to deepen mutual understanding among several million young people. Since 2014, the “Erasmus Mundus Programme”, EU’s framework of cooperation and exchange in higher education, has been open to all over the world. Universities in Europe are willing to enroll more Chinese students, and Chinese students are also interested in studying at universities in Europe. In the first year alone, tens of thousands of Chinese teachers and students participated in this program.

As for academic research, EU’s “Jean Monnet Programme” offers opportunities to scholars from non-EU countries to visit prestigious universities or research centers in Europe. China is the most important partner in this program after the U.S. From 2007 to 2013, around 300,000 Chinese scholars from 315 academic institutions have participated in over 100 EU research programs. We have been engaged in sound academic collaboration with Chinese universities including Fudan University, Renmin University of China, Sichuan University, Tongji University, Tsinghua University and Wuhan University. The EU will continue to support this program and promote EU-China academic research and exchange.

The past three years have seen an increasing number of opportunities in EU-China cultural exchanges. We will continue to support EU-China cultural dialogue and promote the exchanges in multiple fields like modern arts and cultural heritage protection. We would like to thank the Confucius Institute for presenting Chinese culture to the world, which allows better cultural exchanges across the world, and more funding for non-governmental organizations in their cultural exchange programs.

In Brussels, during our meeting with Vice-Premier Mdm. Liu Yandong, we reiterated that the EU is very supportive of the initiatives on language in the “Belt and Road” Strategy. The ancient Silk Road was not only about economy and trade, but also about culture. It has benefited both China and the West through bringing Western music, dance, painting and technology to China and spreading Chinese tea, silk and philosophy to the West. Therefore, the “Belt and Road” Strategy not only links the EU and China as two major markets, but also serves as a bridge for cultural exchanges.


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