The “summit” on people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Germany at Confucius Institute at the Free University of Berlin

[Source] [Time]    2016-12-07 16:04:27 

On November 25th, local time, Madam Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the State Council of China, inspected the Confucius Institute at the Free University of Berlin, where she held a discussion with directors of some Confucius Institutes in Germany. She listened attentively to the opinions and suggestions voiced by the directors of Confucius Institutes in Germany on such topics as deepening cooperation between Chinese and German higher education institutions, international cooperation in Sinology studies and the cultivation of indigenous Chinese language teachers.

On November 25th, several top German Sinologists and directors of all the Confucius Institutes in Germany gathered at the Confucius Institute at the Free University of Berlin, the first Confucius Institute established in the country, and shared their insights on people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries and Chinese language education with the highest-ranking officials in charge of education and culture in China.

Prof. Thomas Heberer with Wang Hai as his Chinese name of the University of Duisburg-Essen, who also assumed the position of Director of the Confucius Institute Metropole Ruhr, briefed the visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong on the day. According to Prof. Thomas Heberer, the Ruhr region is the largest industrial district in Europe and Duisburg serves as the terminus of the “Belt and Road” Initiative in Europe. He also added that the Confucius Institute Metropole Ruhr at University of Duisburg-Essen aimed primarily to not only spread Chinese language and culture, but also introduce China’s politics, economy, society and international relations.

“We believe that we should learn about China’s development in the above-mentioned aspects in order to gain a thorough understanding of China.” In September of this year, the Confucius Institute Metropole Ruhr at University of Duisburg-Essen successfully organized the Second International Forum on the “Belt and Road” and Sino-European Cooperation, where over 150 people from Chinese and European political and business circles including the renowned economist Justin Yifu Lin and President of European Economic Association Fabrizio Zilibotti conducted discussions on China’s development and the opportunities brought by the “Belt and Road” Initiative.

“The Confucius Institute has successfully integrated into the local mainstream society and devoted tremendous efforts to spreading and popularizing Chinese culture.” The Sinologist Michael Lackner with Lang Mixie as his Chinese name, a member of the board of Confucius Institute Nürnberg at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen- Nürnberg, when reviewing its development over the past decade, hailed the Confucius Institute as “an important consultant for the local government and people from economic and cultural circles” as well as “an indispensable part of the cultural life in local community”.

As false accusations were levelled against Confucius Institutes, Michael Lackner once wrote an article in a newspaper to show public support for them. “Only by strengthening exchanges can we enhance understanding and Confucius Institutes serve as the bridge for communication and exchanges.”

Ms. Monika Schädler with Xie Ni as her Chinese name, Director of the Confucius Institute in Bremen, suggested that efforts should be made to reinforce the team building of indigenous Chinese language teachers in Germany and core teachers at the Confucius Institutes, so that the Chinese language could be incorporated into language teaching in local primary and secondary schools as well as the subjects for high school graduation examination.

Based on his experience in attending the World Conference on Sinology, the Sinologist Cord Eberspächer with Pei Gaode as his Chinese name put forward a suggestion that the Sinologists from various countries should enhance communication and strengthen mutual ties, so as to elevate the influence of Sinology in European and American countries.

After hearing the Sinologists out, Madam Liu Yandong acknowledged the necessity of introducing contemporary China through such forms as lectures and making German people understand China. She also agreed that the Confucius Institutes should send excellent teachers with a high level of proficiency in German and that more efforts should be made to cultivate indigenous Chinese language teachers. “These are good suggestions”, she said.

Madam Liu also observed a Chinese language class for students from Leonardo-da-Vinci-Gymnasium in Berlin at the Confucius Institute at the Free University of Berlin.

“How much do bananas cost per jin (1 jin=half a kilo)”? Madam Liu nodded in agreement upon seeing the students practice the usage of the numerals and quantifiers after the teacher.

“You can go to China in the future if you learn the Chinese language well.” Madam Liu presented to each student a book about China as a gift and encouraged everyone to have a good command of Chinese language and culture, so as to devote themselves to people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

The Confucius Institutes in Germany, after a decade of development, are now at a new starting point. This August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel inaugurated the 17th Confucius Institute in Germany in her “political hometown”, Stralsund, which is a first among leaders of Western countries.

“With the concerted efforts made by the leaders of the two countries, the Confucius Institutes in Germany continued to grow, thus building a “spiritual express train” for connectivity between Chinese and German people.” According to Madam Liu Yandong, with the increasingly frequent exchanges between the people of the two countries, Confucius Institutes will play a more prominent role.

Story and photos by Peng Dawei

BERLIN, November 25th (China News Service)