Join our hands to de­velop the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - LIU YAN­DONG

Ed­i­tor’s Note: The 8th Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Con­fer­ence was held in Bei­jing from De­cem­ber 7 to 8, 2013. Liu Yan­dong, vice-pre­mier of the State Coun­cil of China and chair of the Coun­cil of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Head­quar­ters, at­tended the open­ing cer­e­mony and de­liv­ered a speech which is pre­sented here in full.

Dear Del­e­gates: Ladies and Gen­tle­men, Dear Friends: Good Morn­ing! Chi­nese and for­eign del­e­gates from Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes across the world are as­sem­bled here to­day for the grand open­ing of the 8th Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Con­fer­ence. I share your de­light and ex­cite­ment. To­day hap­pens to be the “Great Snow” on the Chi­nese lu­nar cal­en­dar. As the proverb goes, a heavy snow­fall is in­dica­tive of a year of bumper har­vest. This is a sign that the great cause of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes will be even more flour­ish­ing, and the peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes be­tween China and other na­tions will be more pro­duc­tive. Here, on be­half of Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Head­quar­ters, I would like to ex­tend our warm­est wel­come and greet­ings to friends all over the world.

I re­turned from my visit to the United States and Ethiopia just one week ago. When I was in the US, I co-chaired the 4th round of China-US High Level Con­sul­ta­tion on Peo­ple-to-Peo­ple Ex­change with US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry. A se­ries of new pro­grams has been iden­ti­fied for fur­ther ex­changes, and the con­tin­ued sup­port to Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes fea­tures promi­nently on the list. I also vis­ited the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. I was im­pressed by its beau­ti­ful fa­cil­i­ties and the ea­ger­ness of young stu­dents there to learn Chi­nese. When I was in Ethiopia, I vis­ited the Ad­dis Ababa Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute and felt in per­son how the lo­cal peo­ple were open­ing their arms to this new In­sti­tute. The high­light was my meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Mu­latu Teshome. As part of our friendly and ex­ten­sive dis­cus­sions, he re­counted in flu­ent Chi­nese his days as a stu­dent at Pek­ing Univer­sity and Bei­jing Lan­guage and Cul­ture Univer­sity. I was pleas­antly sur­prised and pro­foundly touched.

Over the last few years, I have been to over 20 Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes. Wher­ever I went, I could feel the strong emo­tional bond that ties the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties with the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute. With the grow­ing pres­ence of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes, seeds of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, un­der­stand­ing, har­mony and friend­ship are sowed. They have taken root and now are blos­som­ing and yield­ing fruits. Chi­nese lan­guage and cul­ture are in­tro­duced to coun­tries of the world and in turn their lan­guages and cul­tures have also found a ready au­di­ence in China. Splen­did chap­ters are be­ing writ­ten in the book of peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes be­tween China and the world.

With the con­certed ef­fort of Chi­nese and for­eign part­ners, Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes en­joyed laud­able achieve­ments in the past year, es­pe­cially in four as­pects.

The Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute De­vel­op­ment Plan (2012-2020) was pub­lished on the ba­sis of ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion with Chi­nese and for­eign sides, lay­ing out the over­all goals and pri­or­i­ties over the mid and long terms. So far, Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes around the world have drafted or fi­nal­ized their own de­vel­op­ment plan and are mak­ing en­cour­ag­ing progress as they go along to im­ple­ment it.

The Head­quar­ters has been sup­port­ing a num­ber of over­seas uni­ver­si­ties in es­tab­lish­ing an aca­demic ma­jor in teach­ing Chi­nese lan­guage. Fund­ing has been ex­tended to over 80 Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes to cre­ate head teacher po­si­tions. For­eign stu­dents com­ing to China on Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Schol­ar­ships have been screened and se­lected to be as­signed back to their home coun­try as Chi­nese lan­guage teach­ers, open­ing up a new av­enue for lo­cal fac­ulty de­vel­op­ment. Also in the past year, 300 Chi­nese full-time teach­ers have been se­lected for as­sign­ment world­wide. The num­ber of teach­ers sent by Chi­nese side has in­creased. By all ac­count, the num­ber of teach­ers at Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes, sent from China or re­tained lo­cally, full-time or part-time in­creased by 43%, ex­ceed­ing the an­nual tar­get set in the De­vel­op­ment Plan. 3). The launch of Con­fu­cius China Stud­ies Pro­gram. As an ini­tia­tive de­signed to raise Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes’ so­phis­ti­ca­tion and aca­demic in­flu­ence, the Pro­gram re­cruited 70 young schol­ars from 30 coun­tries as doctoral can­di­dates in China in hu­man­i­ties or so­cial sciences. The Pro­gram char­ac­ter­ized by its “open door pol­icy” al­lows stu­dents to choose for them­selves the cour­ses and su­per­vi­sors from an ar­ray of Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try. Cred­its earned can be mu­tu­ally rec­og­nized be­tween Chi­nese in­sti­tu­tions and be­tween Chi­nese and over­seas in­sti­tu­tions, forg­ing a new model for in­ter­na­tional joint aca­demic pro­grams to train schol­ars in ad­vanced stud­ies in

hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences. The Head­quar­ters this year es­tab­lished the first Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Re­gional Center in the US as it has the largest num­ber of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes. Prepa­ra­tions are un­der­way for open­ing a Latin Amer­i­can Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Re­gional Center in San­ti­ago, Chile. This new ini­tia­tive has the po­ten­tial to de­liver mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits. It fa­cil­i­tates in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and re­source pool­ing among Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes in the same ge­o­graphic re­gion and serves as a co­or­di­nated plat­form for in­ter­ac­tions with lo­cal gov­ern­ments and di­verse sec­tors in the com­mu­ni­ties. It can also boost the teach­ing qual­ity of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes. Go­ing for­ward, we will re-ex­am­ine our ini­tial ex­pe­ri­ences and es­tab­lish more such cen­ters as we see fit to bet­ter serve Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes in dif­fer­ent ge­o­graphic re­gions.

It has been nine years since the first Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute was founded in 2004. Now 440 Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes and 646 Con­fu­cius Classrooms are es­tab­lished in 120 coun­tries and re­gions through­out five con­ti­nents, to­tal­ing over one thou­sand. How­ever it all started from scratch. Over the years this cause has evolved and scaled up in the num­ber of peo­ple it touches as well in the aca­demic qual­ity it de­liv­ers. The world­wide de­sire to learn Chi­nese is ably served by this great en­deavor. In the mean­time, the friend­ship and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween peo­ple in China and else­where are ad­vanced. This im­pres­sive out­come would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the hard work and per­se­ver­ance of you in the au­di­ence, with­out the lo­cal host uni­ver­si­ties and com­mu­ni­ties where Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes find their homes. I would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to ex­press my most sin­cere thanks to all of you here. May I also ask you to send my best re­gards to all of those you know who have sup­ported the de­vel­op­ment of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute.

Ladies and Gen­tle­men, Dear Friends,

This year marks the 35th an­niver­sary of China’s re­form and open­ing up. 35 years ago, China made a his­toric choice. Since then, a land of an­cient her­itage has been rein­vig­o­rated, and a coun­try home to 1/5 of the world’s pop­u­la­tion in­te­grated into the com­mu­nity of na­tions. China’s econ­omy has ex­panded 142 times in last 35 years, per capita in­come in ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas up 71 and 59 times re­spec­tively. Re­cently, at the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, com­pre­hen­sive re­view was con­ducted to take stock of the ex­pe­ri­ence and achieve­ments since the be­gin­ning of the re­form and top level de­signs and sys­tem­atic de­ploy­ments were for­mu­lated to deepen the re­form in new his­tor­i­cal cir­cum­stances. The re­newed agenda cov­ers eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, cul­tural, so­ci­etal, eco­log­i­cal and other spheres. Close to 300 ma­jor re­form mea­sures are spec­i­fied in 60 chap­ters in 16 cat­e­gories. It is un­prece­dented in its scope and re­solve. The guid­ing ob­jec­tive of this round of re­form is to de­velop and im­prove the so­cial­ist sys­tem with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics, and mod­ern­ize China’s gov­er­nance sys­tem and ca­pa­bil­ity. The cen­ter­piece is the deep­en­ing of the mar­ket eco­nomic sys­tem re­form to prop­erly ad­dress the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the mar­ket with the mar­ket play­ing the de­ci­sive role in re­source al­lo­ca­tion and the gov­ern­ment bet­ter ful­fill­ing its due roles. We will ac­cel­er­ate the so­cial­ist mar­ket econ­omy, ad­vance po­lit­i­cal democ­racy, pro­mote nour­ish­ing cul­tures, fos­ter so­cial har­mony and build eco­log­i­cal civ­i­liza­tion so that all peo­ple will ben­e­fit from de­vel­op­ment in­clu­sively in a greater and more eq­ui­table way.

Pro­mot­ing China’s peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes with the world is an im­por­tant di­men­sion in the over­all re­form agenda. China will fur­ther open up cul­tur­ally to present its cul­ture to the global arena. China is also ea­ger to learn from other coun­tries and hope to bring in ta­lented peo­ple, tech­nolo­gies and man­age­ment ex­per­tise for the ben­e­fit of cul­tural de­vel­op­ment. We will en­cour­age so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions, Chi­nese com­pa­nies and other or­ga­ni­za­tions to take part in the de­vel­op­ment of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes. The high level com­mit­ment and full sup­port of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is bound to cre­ate new im­pe­tus for Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes.

At the mo­ment, the peo­ple of China are ral­ly­ing around the Chi­nese Dream, a vi­sion for the full achieve­ment of a well-off so­ci­ety and the great re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping laid out that Chi­nese Dream is a dream for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, job se­cu­rity, higher in­come, de­pend­able so­cial se­cu­ri­ties, bet­ter health care, de­cent hous­ing and a sound ecosys­tem. The pur­suit of a happy life is an as­pi­ra­tion shared by peo­ple across China and be­yond. An an­cient Chi­nese ax­iom “all liv­ing crea­tures grow to­gether with­out harm­ing one another; all ways run par­al­lel with­out in­ter­fer­ing with one another” cap­tures aptly this com­mon de­sire. In to­day’s global vil­lage, coun­tries in the world are so closely knit that they have be­come en­ti­ties of shared in­ter­ests and even shared des­tiny. The re­al­iza­tion of the Chi­nese Dream will bring about not just well­be­ing for the peo­ple in China, but also greater op­por­tu­ni­ties for world pros­per­ity and win-win co­op­er­a­tion. The peo­ple of China hope to achieve their Chi­nese Dream while join­ing hands with peo­ple around the world to achieve the world dream of global peace and pros­per­ity.

The Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute as an ef­fec­tive ve­hi­cle for cul­tural ex­changes and an im­por­tant plat­form for re­in­forc­ing in­ter­na­tional friend­ships is where the Chi­nese Dream, the dreams of all coun­tries and the world dream come to con­verge. On May 30, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping wrote a con­grat­u­la­tory let­ter for the es­tab­lish­ment of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Davis in the US. Pres­i­dent Xi stated that learn­ing lan­guages and cul­tures en­hances mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and friend­ship and con­trib­utes to state re­la­tions. He urged the in­volved par­ties to en­gage in close co­op­er­a­tion to make the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute a suc­cess­ful en­deavor to add to ed­u­ca­tion ex­changes and bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries. Pres­i­dent Xi’s words are more than kind wishes in­tended for the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute at UC Davis alone. They should also res­onate with all In­sti­tutes as en­cour­age­ment and ex­pec­ta­tions. The gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of China will con­tinue the un­wa­ver­ing sup­port to Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes. Ladies and Gen­tle­men, Dear Friends, Be­fore the con­fer­ence was opened, the Coun­cil of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Head­quar­ters had a very pro­duc­tive two hour meet­ing. Chi­nese and in­ter­na­tional mem­bers of the Coun­cil com­mended the work in the past year and the plan for next year. They also unan­i­mously ap­proved the theme for this year’s con­fer­ence and the topics for the con­cur­rent ses­sions. They hold the view that this year’s con­fer­ence is dif­fer­ent from the pre­vi­ous ones in that it high­lights suc­cess­ful case stud­ies and ex­pe­ri­ence shar­ing with a sharp fo­cus on teach­ing qual­ity. I be­lieve the con­fer­ence will be a re­sound­ing suc­cess with your par­tic­i­pa­tion, serv­ing as an im­por­tant mile­stone as Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes em­brace a new era of de­vel­op­ment. Next I would like to make a few ob­ser­va­tions re­gard­ing the year in front of us:

1. Strengthen Chi­nese lan­guage teach­ing and en­large cov­er­age. The mis­sion of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes is first and fore­most to meet the needs of for­eign­ers in­ter­ested in learn­ing Chi­nese lan­guage. The scope of Chi­nese lan­guage teach­ing must be scaled up with at­ten­tion to qual­ity as­sur­ance. Spe­cial ef­fort must be made to train and de­velop head teach­ers. Sup­port needs to be given to more for­eign uni­ver­si­ties so that they can launch new aca­demic ma­jors to re­cruit lo­cal stu­dents as fu­ture Chi­nese lan­guage teach­ers. Pro­duc­tion of ef­fec­tive teach­ing ma­te­ri­als needs to step up, and great sup­port should be given to Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes to de­velop their own lo­cal­ized text­books that are in­for­ma­tive, en­gag­ing and adapt­able. Mod­ern in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies such as web based tech­niques and dig­i­tal me­dia must be lev­er­aged to lead the way in in­no­va­tive teach­ing method­olo­gies. In the last two years, MOOC (Mas­sive Open Online Cour­ses) has be­come a global trend. Many ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ists be­lieve we are in for a rev­o­lu­tion as it has the po­ten­tial to make pre­mium ed­u­ca­tion re­sources uni­ver­sally ac­ces­si­ble, mul­ti­ply the out­put of teach­ing fac­ulty and en­gage the in­ter­est of learn­ers. Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes must seize the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented by MOOC as a way to de­liver higher qual­ity and more ac­ces­si­ble Chi­nese lan­guage teach­ing to a wider range of po­ten­tial learn­ers.

2.Strive for greater so­phis­ti­ca­tion in peo­pleto-peo­ple ex­changes. As China be­comes in­creas­ingly vis­i­ble on the in­ter­na­tional scene, there is grow­ing de­sire through­out the world to see China in an au­then­tic and un­bi­ased way. The Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute as the plat­form of di­verse cul­tural ex­changes has unique ad­van­tages in pre­sent­ing China as what it re­ally is. Con­fu­cius China Stud­ies Pro­gram will con­tinue to run to re­cruit young schol­ars to come to China to study to­wards doc­to­rial de­grees in so­cial sciences and hu­man­i­ties. “Un­der­stand­ing China” Fel­low­ship and “Young Lead­ers” Fel­low­ship will be of­fered to fund re­search and study tours to China. Sup­port will be given to Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes and their host uni­ver­si­ties to en­cour­age the trans­la­tion and pub­li­ca­tion of works on Chi­nese cul­ture, and to a num­ber of re­search ori­ented Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes to en­gage in aca­dem­i­cally rig­or­ous Chi­nese stud­ies. Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes are also ex­pected to fa­cil­i­tate the trans­fer of cul­tural achieve­ments from for­eign coun­tries to China and rec­om­mend tal­ents, tech­nolo­gies and man­age­ment ex­per­tise for China to con­sider and adopt as part of two way ex­change to pro­mote the cul­tural in­clu­sive­ness and diver­sity.

I want to share a story with you. In April last year, I at­tended the un­veil­ing cer­e­mony of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Ul­ster in the UK.

The Deputy First Min­is­ter of North­ern Ire­land Jonathan Bell made a re­quest. His wife’s great grand­fa­ther Joseph Hunter came to Yingkou, China with his wife in the spring of 1869. Mrs. Hunter died from a disease the next year. But Mr. Hunter con­tin­ued to prac­tice and teach medicine in north­east­ern China for as long as 15 years be­fore he passed away in Shang­hai. Mr. Bell won­dered whether China could as­sist him in the search of the records of Mr. Hunter’s life and work in China and the lo­ca­tion of Mrs. Hunter’s burial place. I in­structed Han­ban to fol­low up on his re­quest. Han­ban worked to­gether with Shenyang Nor­mal Univer­sity and Dalian Univer­sity of For­eign Lan­guages for this as­sign­ment. It took a ded­i­cated search team more than six months to find the lo­ca­tion of Mr. Hunter’s clinic and res­i­dence in Yingkou. But un­for­tu­nately the tomb of Mrs. Hunter has not been lo­cated yet. Mr. Bell as a Chair­man of the Board of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Ul­ster is here at this con­fer­ence. What this story shows is that Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes and the ex­changes they have made in­deed can cre­ate mir­a­cles where strangers are con­nected and hearts are joined.

3. Make Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute a cul­tural brand to en­hance trac­tion and ad­he­sion. Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes be­long to China and even more so the world that have be­come an in­stantly rec­og­niz­able brand in cul­tural ex­changes be­tween China and other coun­tries. Fre­quent and en­gag­ing cul­tural events are the hall­mark of a suc­cess­ful Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute. In re­cent years, Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes’ cul­tural events com­bin­ing Chi­nese and lo­cal el­e­ments have been quite a sen­sa­tion in their com­mu­ni­ties. Next year we are go­ing to cel­e­brate the 10th an­niver­sary of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute, which I be­lieve fea­tures promi­nently on the cal­en­dar. Many Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes have pro­posed the cre­ation of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Day as a com­mon oc­ca­sion for fes­tiv­ity. In the sec­ond half of this year, the Head­quar­ters staged events mark­ing the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Day in Ger­many, Aus­tria, the Nether­lands, Bel­gium and Slove­nia, which are well re­ceived by the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Th­ese trial runs have given us a great amount of ex­pe­ri­ences for the global roll out of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Day next year. We will ad­here to the prin­ci­pal of vol­un­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion and fru­gal­ity to or­ga­nize Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Day events that re­flect lo­cal unique­ness as a way to en­hance the pro­file and in­flu­ence of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes and grow the sense of iden­tity and be­long­ing in our big fam­ily.

4. Strengthen ad­min­is­tra­tion to guar­an­tee the de­vel­op­ment of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute. As a Chi­nese proverb says: a flock of geese will not fly with­out their head bird; a for­ma­tion of foot sol­diers will not be brave with­out their gen­eral. The de­vel­op­ment of an ex­cel­lent ad­min­is­tra­tive and man­age­rial team es­pe­cially one with top­notch di­rec­tors is foun­da­tional to the suc­cess of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes. Chi­nese and lo­cal Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes di­rec­tors have been work­ing con­sci­en­tiously and made valu­able con­tri­bu­tions to their Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes’ growth. Now con­fronted with new chal­lenges, we will con­tinue to pri­or­i­tize the de­vel­op­ment of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute di­rec­tors by in­sti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing and stan­dard­iz­ing the train­ing re­quire­ment. We will also fa­cil­i­tate the ex­changes and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween di­rec­tors from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute di­rec­tors are ex­pected to be­come more able and skilled to serve at their lead­er­ship po­si­tion and be a role model. Fol­low­ing the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute De­vel­op­ment Plan, the Head­quar­ters is pre­lim­i­nar­ily con­sid­er­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of the Academy of Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute Di­rec­tor for ro­tated train­ing of di­rec­tors and head teach­ers. The Academy will also be a re­search fa­cil­ity to host for­eign si­nol­o­gist com­ing to China. The Academy will have a coun­cil as its de­ci­sion mak­ing body and hire lead­ing Chi­nese and for­eign ex­perts as its train­ers. I be­lieve with the full sup­port from the univer­sity pres­i­dents, Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute di­rec­tors and all par­ties, the Academy will be first class and be­come a home to Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes in China and a center of ex­cel­lence for cul­tural stud­ies and peo­pleto-peo­ple ex­changes. Ladies and Gen­tle­men, Dear Friends, Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes are the fruits born out of sin­cere co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Chi­nese and for­eign part­ners. It is an un­prece­dented in­no­va­tion in China’s his­tory of in­ter­na­tional ex­changes. I want to con­clude by quot­ing from the Book of Changes: If two per­sons are of the same mind, their sharp­ness can cut through metal. Let’s join our hands and unite our pas­sion and per­se­ver­ance to make the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute an even greater suc­cess to pro­mote in­ter­na­tional ex­changes and con­trib­ute to the pros­per­ity and cul­tural ad­vance­ment for the hu­man so­ci­ety.

A new year is just around the cor­ner, I would like to give you my best wishes. I wish you a happy new year, good health and pros­per­ity. Please also send my best re­gards to teach­ers and stu­dents at your Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes or Con­fu­cius Classrooms.

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