Help the world truly understand civilized China
Foreign guests greatly interested in the embroidery of the Yi ethnic group
Recently, the 11th Confucius Institute Conference concluded in Kunming. As a window for the world to know China, the Confucius Institute serves both as a bond for communication among diverse cultures in China and foreign countries and a bridge for deepening friendship among various countries.
“The brother of my grandfather once served as a member of the ‘Flying Tigers’ (American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force). He stayed in Kunming for three years, and did his part to contribute to China’s resistance war against the Japanese invasion by flying supplies over the “Hump” during the Second World War. I grew up amid the stories of the ‘Flying Tigers’, and my family all hold deep affection towards China.” James B. Heimowitz, with He Zhiming as his Chinese name, President of China Institute in the US, attended this year’s Confucius Institute Conference. With a keen interest in the Chinese culture, Mr. Heimowitz once studied Chinese at Beijing Normal University and has devoted to the international promotion of the Chinese language and culture for over 20 years. He told our reporters, “I hope that language, culture and arts can showcase China as it truly is to the outside world.”
Helping the world to know the Chinese culture
At the open ceremony of this year’s conference, Canadian Pianist Roger Lord and an artist from Yunnan performed together an ensemble of the classical Chinese music Little Running River with piano and Hulusi, whose superb performance won thunderous applause.
“In 1930 when Mei Lanfang performed in New York in the US, his enormous success fully demonstrated the great charm of the Chinese culture. At present, through popularizing the modern Chinese literature to the public in the US, such as the renowned Chinese novelist Yu Hua, the Confucius Institute is offering them a window to learn more about the Chinese culture.” Mr. Heimowitz told our reporters. The Confucius Institute at China Institute is the second one established in the US. Recently, the Institute held an exhibition entitled Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China, 3rd–6th Centuries with over 100 exhibits of ceramic works, sculptures, calligraphy works and paintings loaned from Nanjing Museum and Shanxi Museum, which was well received among the public. Among these art works, most of them were exhibited in the US for the first time.
After twelve years of steady progress since first launched in 2004, the Confucius Institute is now standing at a brand-new starting point. To date, 511 Confucius Institutes and 1,073 Confucius Classrooms have been established in 140 countries and regions. In 2016, the Confucius Institutes and Classrooms around the world, with a team of 46,000 Chinese and foreign full-time and part-time teachers, enrolled 2.1 million students and hosted cultural events of various types, receiving a total of 13 million participants. Yunnan has long been recognized as a key point of the “southern Silk Road”, where diverse civilizations met and integrated into each other in a harmonious manner. Universities in Yunnan have jointly established 12 Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in collaboration with foreign partners.
Inviting in and going global
What important roles that the internationalization of university education plays in the global promotion of the Chinese language has become a hot topic for experts.
“Chinese-foreign cooperation in education is both a vehicle and a significant opportunity for all countries to seek development in education, which is highly challenging,” said Zhu Chouwen, Director of the Office of Confucius Institute of Fudan University. Fudan University has partnered with the University of Hamburg in Germany and enrolled 30 Ph.D. students under the Confucius China Studies Program. The university offers a two-way education program to these students with the help of its overseas academic centres and Confucianism forums and at the same time “invites in” humanities and social sciences and promotes them to “go global”.
José de Jesús Williams, Rector of Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (Autonomous University of Yucatan), Mexico, said, “to date, we have recommended more than 180 students of the Autonomous University of Yucatan to several Confucius Institutes in Mexico, so as to create opportunities for them to study at the Confucius Institute and learn more about China and the Chinese culture.”
“At present, we have two Confucius Institutes in Nigeria and our outdoor exhibition and performance of the Chinese culture are extremely popular. The Confucius Institute is playing a crucial role in economy, culture, education and science and technology for both China and Nigeria. I hope more Confucius Institutes could join us in this endeavour,” proposed the vice chancellor of the University of Lagos, Nigeria.
With the strong support from Confucius Institute Headquarters, East China Normal University has jointly established nine Confucius Institutes in collaboration with universities and educational institutions in the US and Europe since 2005. These nine Confucius Institutes not only make active efforts in Chinese language teaching, but also organize diverse and colourful events to motivate foreign students to know China and learn about the Chinese culture. As one of the first universities to participate in the Confucius China Studies Program, Renmin University of China enrolled the first Ph.D. students for this program in 2013. Since then, 25 of them have been conducting China studies in fields relevant to humanities and social sciences at the university. It is learned that the “Confucius China Studies Program” aims to foster deep understanding of China and the Chinese culture among young generations from around the world, enable the prosperous growth of China studies, promote the sustainable development of Confucius Institutes, and enhance the friendly relationship between China and the people of other countries.
Assisting the development of the “Belt and Road”
At the forum on “Cultural Exchange in Both Directions along the Belt and Road”, directors of seven Confucius Institutes in six countries shared their experience in promoting Sino-foreign cultural exchanges in both directions and the development of the “Belt and Road” as well as strategies for future development.
The director of the Confucius Institute at Bishkek Humanities University, Kyrgyzstan, shared stories of the close bond between the local public and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The Confucius Institute once held activities to promote the Chinese culture, TCM and the Chinese language to youths of the pastoral region, which were all well received in local communities. The Institute also offered a child with scoliosis a corrective treatment based on the acupuncture and moxibustion therapy of TCM. After that, the local pastoral region where the child lived expressed their hope on many occasions that the Confucius Institute could offer TCM treatment to more children.
At the forum, delegates from many countries introduced how Confucius Institutes in their countries conducted relevant cultural exchange events under the guidance of the “Belt and Road” Initiative as well as their means of popularizing the Chinese language through various channels such as summer camps, Peking Opera and Wushu, and culture of ethnic groups in China, in a hope to enable the world to know more about China and the Chinese culture.
The delegates all agreed that while promoting greater acceptance and popularity of the Chinese language and culture around the world, the Confucius Institute has always been playing a pivotal role in facilitating their provinces and universities to develop all-round cooperation with countries along the “Belt and Road” in various fields, including cultural and people-to-people exchanges, sister school ties, sister province-state relations, as well as business and trade partnerships. The Confucius Institute could be a key player in assisting the development of the “Belt and Road”.
According to statistics, 134 Confucius Institutes, and 127 Confucius Classrooms at primary and secondary schools have been established in 51 countries along the “Belt and Road”. In 2016, these Confucius Institutes and Classrooms, enjoying enormous popularity among people in these countries, enrolled a total of 460,000 students and held around 8,000 cultural events of various types, receiving 2.7 million participants. Currently, 94% of the Confucius Institutes and Classrooms in countries along the route offer credit courses of Chinese language, 93 universities have set up degree programs of Chinese language initiated by Confucius Institutes, and 20 countries along the route have incorporated Chinese language teaching into their national education systems.
The Confucius Institute has become a “bridge builder” for exchange and mutual learning between Chinese and foreign civilizations and a vital window for the world to know China and for China to deepen its friendship and cooperation with countries around the globe.
Reporters: Zhang Yong & Ren Weidong
Correspondents: Guo Peiran & Yu Qing
Photos by Zhang Yong
Dec. 20th, 2016, Page 05 (Guangming Daily)