Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute to host largest sum­mit

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO - By XING YI and LI YINGQING in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince xingyi@chi­

was once an or­deal.

In 1988, a fam­ily (above) in the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion’s Wuzhou used ropes and a lot of help to move a sofa through the win­dow be­cause the cor­ri­dors in the build­ing were too nar­row. But things have changed. Now, a house owner in Bei­jing (right) spends time on his mo­bile phone as two work­ers from a mov­ing com­pany, which he found on­line, pack his stuff.

The In­ter­net Plus ser­vice of­fers new op­tions.

The Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute will hold its largest an­nual con­fer­ence on Satur­day in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince.

Since it started in 2006, the event has dis­cussed ways to make Chi­nese lan­guage and cul­ture more ac­ces­si­ble to for­eign­ers.

This year’s topics in­clude the global eval­u­a­tion sys­tem for the Chi­nese lan­guage that has been de­signed by the in­sti­tute and de­vel­op­ing new pro­grams to pro­mote cul­tural ex­changes be­tween China and the world.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, which China an­nounced in 2013 to in­vig­o­rate eco­nomic and cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion along the an­cient Silk Road, and in­no­va­tion — another pri­or­ity of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment — are also likely to be dis­cussed at the meet­ing.

Vice-Pre­mier Liu Yan­dong will de­liver the key­note speech, a state­ment from the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute head­quar­ters in Bei­jing said.

More than 2,400 branch di­rec­tors of the in­sti­tute, univer­sity heads, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and diplo­mats from home and abroad are ex­pected to at­tend the two-day con­fer­ence.

Since the first Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute was es­tab­lished in 2004 in Tashkent, Uzbek­istan, 511 branches have been opened in 140 coun­tries where the Chi­nese lan­guage is taught and ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to cal­lig­ra­phy and tai chi are or­ga­nized. In a few coun­tries, classes on tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine are also con­ducted.

The United States has the big­gest num­ber of branches — 109.

More than 2.1 mil­lion stu­dents have taken cour­ses at dif­fer­ent branches, a me­dia re­la­tions of­fi­cial at the Han­ban, an Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry af­fil­i­ate that su­per­vises the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute, said.

“We have achieved the orig­i­nal goal for the num­ber of branches for the pe­riod mil­lion be­tween 2012 and 2020,” the of­fi­cial said.

“Our next pri­or­ity is to im­prove the qual­ity of cour­ses.”

While no i mme­di­ate ex­pan­sion plans are on the hori­zon, the of­fi­cial said, more branches are likely to be es­tab­lished in coun­tries hop­ing to join the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

The first Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute where TCM is taught opened in Lon­don South Bank Univer­sity in 2007, fol­low­ing a part­ner­ship with Hei­long jiang Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine Univer­sity. It of­fers a de­gree in acupunc­ture and has a clinic where tra­di­tional ther­a­pies, such as cup­ping, are avail­able.

On Fri­day, a pre-con­fer­ence sem­i­nar on pro­mot­ing TCM and tai chi over­seas was held in Kun­ming. It was at­tended by of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of more than 30 uni­ver­si­ties.

“I wanted to learn Chi­nese be­cause I en­joy the Chi­nese mar­tial arts,” David Kwock, a Chi­nese-lan­guage stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Hawaii, said.

The Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute on his cam­pus al­lows him to learn in a “non-pres­sure” at­mos­phere, which helps him pick up the lan­guage at his own pace, he said.

He sug­gested books like In­te­grat­edChi­nese — a new learner’s se­ries au­thored by aca­demics from China and the US that is pop­u­lar in North Amer­ica — could be used for classes.

Sim­i­lar to the Bri­tish Coun­cil and Ger­many’s Goethe In­sti­tute, the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute aims to pro­vide lan­guage pro­grams and cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties for for­eign­ers in their home coun­tries.

Last year, the con­fer­ence was held in Shang­hai.

stu­dents have taken cour­ses at branches of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute, its head­quar­ters said.

Yan Dongjie in Hawaii con­trib­uted to the story.


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