“We Are Family”
Confucius Institute — the Bridge for Exchanges Between Other Countries and China

[Source]    People’s Daily Overseas Edition [Time]    2019-05-15 09:03:52 

A few days ago, an economic and trade delegation organized by the Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield (SCI), UK and some companies visited such Chinese cities as Beijing and Zhengzhou. This is a picture of the scene.

A few days ago, an economic and trade delegation organized by the Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield (SCI), UK and some companies visited such Chinese cities as Beijing and Zhengzhou. The delegation included representatives from 9 companies in Sheffield whose business covering medical equipment and technology, creative digital marketing, industrial manufacturing and food and beverage industry.

"It has been confirmed that China is one of the most important trade partners of Sheffield." Xu Ziyin, a China project manager at the Sheffield City Hall, told the reporter from People’s Daily, “SCI is a great partner serving as a bridge for China-UK economic and trade exchanges. The University of Sheffield, SCI and local chambers of commerce...are family."

"Confucius Institute Is of Great Help"

SCI has been promoting China-UK economic and trade exchanges since 2013, when it began its promotion of China-UK cooperation in such fields as economic trade, industrial manufacturing and medical equipment and technology.

"From then on, besides Chinese language teaching at all levels, we began to grope our way forward with further attempts." said Zhao Xia, who became the foreign director of SCI in 2013.

With the deepening of business exchanges between Britain China, more and more modes of cooperation have been explored and implemented. “For Chinese enterprises to go global, they first face with such challenges as language barriers, different law provisions and business environments. SCI has been aware of them, thus establishing the China-UK Business Research Association, with the aim at providing services for the public with solid academic capacity. Meanwhile, in order to make Sheffield the center of Chinese companies in Northern England, we have also set up ‘the China-UK Sheffield—Confucius Business Portal.’" Zhao Xia added.

Pauline Dawes, CEO of SOMI Trailer Ltd., was a member of Sheffield economic and trade delegation. She was “really looking forward to cooperating with Chinese enterprises”. "This is the first time for our company having the opportunity to cooperate with Chinese companies. We were very interested in Chinese market before, but unfortunately, we didn't have the access and knew little relevant information of Chinese companies. Now, SCI and Sheffield government have acted as a bridge and accomplished the preliminary work for us, so we are able to come to China for cooperation. The Confucius Institute has given us much help." she said, "During my visit in China, I have noticed the rapid development of Chinese enterprises and extensive business opportunities for cooperation between both sides."

According to the data from SCI, it has held 27 different commercial activities with its partners from 2017 to 2018 so as to help Chinese and British businessmen and enterprises better understand each other. In 2017, SCI was awarded the “China Collaboration” at Horasis China Meeting 2017 which was held jointly by Sheffield and China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE). “The award shows their recognition of SCI’s work and gives us the incentive to move on.” said Zhao Xia.

“We Hope to Have Further Cooperation with Chinese Enterprises”

When asked about the intention of the delegation’s visit to China, Xu Ziyin said, “The aim is to enable participating enterprises to develop trade relations based on cooperation and mutual benefits, especially in the fields of advanced manufacturing and technology.”

Apt Networks Ltd., a member of the delegation, is committed to developing user-oriented applications to improve its business efficiency. "When developing overseas markets, Chinese companies need to introduce themselves in a way that is more acceptable to foreign consumers, which is the highlight of our products." said Quan Qiaoyi, the company’s head in China.

U. K.-based Harlan Medical System, Inc. has brought artificial intelligent chatting robots and symptom checker technology to China. "The robot can provide not only self-diagnosis and classification services, but also video counseling with British medical experts according to the patient's symptoms. We hope to have further cooperation with Chinese enterprises in the future." said Ibiora, the representative of the company.

SOMI Trailers Ltd., with its technology of making use of a computer-controlled mobile deck, enables the space underneath a trailer to carry 31% more pallets than usual. "SOMI Trailers Ltd. once won relevant innovation awards in this field. At present, we are very interested in Chinese market and looking forward to further cooperation in the future." said Pauline Dawes.

Like SCI, a number of Confucius Institutes have acted as "bridges" for economic and trade exchanges between China and foreign countries.

The Confucius Institute at Georgia State University adopts the development strategy of evolving into a "business-oriented Confucius Institute", aiming at building a bridge for China-US business exchanges. The Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University in Egypt cooperates closely with local Chinese companies, specifically in training talents for them, holding job fairs to provide qualified personnel for local Chinese companies and offering cross-cultural training camps, etc.

Meeting Needs of Local People

Besides serving for China-UK business exchanges, SCI has been actively extending its functions while continuing Chinese language teaching.

"In medical fields, SCI promoted cooperation between a number of organizations and universities: the University of Sheffield’s Medical Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Medical AMRC) and the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) and the Future Laboratory, Tsinghua University (THFL) in terms of artificial intelligence-assisted medical training; the Medical School of the University of Sheffield and People's Hospital of Peking University; Medical System of the University of Sheffield and Health Commission of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region ." said Zhao Xia.

According to the relevant statistics, by the end of last year, a curriculum called "Chinese Plus" has been set up in 49 Confucius Institutes, regarding business, tourism, and traditional Chinese medicine. The students attending the courses reached over 12,000. The cooperation in education with 331 Chinese and overseas companies strongly promoted people-to-people exchanges as well as economic and trade cooperation between China and the rest of the world.

"To meet demands of local people, the Confucius Institute expanded its functions. For example, featured courses in Chinese were set up in 2016 because the local estate agencies wished the Confucius Institute to offer them to Chinese students in the UK. These years we have offered relevant courses to introduce the medical experience and concepts to Chinese students before their studying abroad so as to help them communicate fluently with local medical stuff in the future." said Zhao Xia.

(Story by Zhao Xiaoxia, photos by SCI People's Daily Overseas Edition, page 9, May 10th, 2019,)

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