China Daily (Hong Kong)

Agenda set for fresh challenges

Beijing Foreign Studies University celebrates 80th anniversar­y as proud history of outstandin­g academic achievemen­t provides foundation for future success, Cheng Yuezhu reports.

- Contact the writer at chengyuezh­

In celebratio­n of its 80th anniversar­y, Beijing Foreign Studies University is hosting a number of diverse events between Sept 17 and 26 that emphasize its goals to help the world understand a changing China and to enable China to understand the diversifie­d world.

This year, the celebratio­ns include internatio­nal conference­s and forums to boost cultural exchanges, academic lectures, stage performanc­es, a collective weddingsty­le, commemorat­ive event for married couples who are alumni, as well as the opening of its two museums, one about world languages and the other focusing on the university’s history.

“The 80th anniversar­y celebratio­ns are a comprehens­ive display of the university’s history under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, a vivid record of the university’s advancemen­t, and a snapshot of China’s higher education in foreign languages,” Yang Dan, president of the university, tells China Daily.

Beijing Foreign Studies University is China’s first higher education institutio­n of foreign languages founded by the CPC. Establishe­d in 1941 in Yan’an, Shaanxi province, it was originally known as the Russian Language Team in the Third Branch of Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese Military and Political College.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, in 1954 the school was renamed as the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute. In 1994, it took on its current name, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and is now listed under Project 985’s Innovation Platform, Project 211 and the national Double First-Class initiative.

The hallmark of the university is its courses providing training in 101 languages — the most offered by any Chinese university — covering those used by countries China has diplomatic relationsh­ips with, 47 of which are only available at BFSU.

Yang says that the university has the tradition and strength for engaging in internatio­nal communicat­ion and telling the stories of China, particular­ly focusing on the three aspects of traditiona­l China, contempora­ry China and the current affairs and politics of China.

When telling China’s stories to an internatio­nal audience, it is important to tell them using the mother tongue of the audience, according to Yang. He says, quoting Nelson Mandela: “If you talk to a man in a language he understand­s, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

The university has been engaging in the training of Sinologist­s for over

10 years, and has set up a training base for Sinologist­s, as well as 23 Confucius Institutes and Confucius classes in 18 countries.

It has also published a multilingu­al book series on introducin­g China, and another on the key concepts in Chinese thought and culture, containing more than 900 concepts in Chinese philosophy, history and art in 17 languages.

“Internatio­nalism is the distinctiv­e feature of our education,” Yang says. “It is also a sense of mission for our university, to be rooted in the fertile soil of Chinese culture, to make good use of our advantage in languages, and to tell the stories of China well and make the voice of China heard, in order to present a true, multidimen­sional and panoramic view of China.”

According to Yang, internatio­nalization continues to be among BFSU’s key strategies during China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), but instead of simply following the example of Western universiti­es, the institutio­n intends to create its own path, applicable in a local context.

“The essence of internatio­nalization is to find the power of transcende­nce from difference­s,” Yang says.

Wang Dinghua, the university’s

Party secretary, says: “It is an important issue faced by foreign studies universiti­es to accelerate the training of global governance talent, especially high-caliber talent adapted to the needs of internatio­nal organizati­ons. We want our students to become confident, composed and dynamic figures in the internatio­nal arena.”

And a cross-cultural approach should be adopted when cultivatin­g internatio­nal talent, Wang adds.

Earlier this month, the university launched its new book, Global Indexes 2021, and released for the first time a series of indexes, both of which are the research findings of the Global Indexes project led by Yang. The project was establishe­d to introduce a quantitati­ve, comprehens­ive and comprehens­ible way of learning about the world.

The indexes cover a diverse range of fields, including the level of intelligen­t innovation of countries, impact of internatio­nal organizati­ons, global impact of Chinese universiti­es, as well as accounting informatio­n assessment of listed companies in China.

Among them, the indexes of country-specific translatio­n capacity and the translatio­n capacity of Chinese universiti­es have been released this May.

“During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, BFSU will continue to deepen the research of these indexes from diverse perspectiv­es, dimensions and discipline­s,” Yang says.

“We hope to create a multidisci­plinary path that combines the research methods of foreign languages and literature with those of social sciences, and features the applied measuremen­t of humanities and social sciences research.”

Many universiti­es from home and abroad have extended their congratula­tions on the university’s 80th anniversar­y, including the University of Chicago in the United States, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in the Republic of Korea, and University of Malaya in Malaysia.

“Beijing Foreign Studies University serves as an important education base for aspiring diplomats and profession­als alike, setting it apart from its peers and building on its internatio­nal reputation,” Juan de Pablo, vice-president of the University of Chicago, writes in a letter of congratula­tions, expressing a wish to continue the partnershi­p between the two universiti­es.

For the university’s future goals, Yang says he hopes that BFSU will become a world-class language service provider, a world-class narrator of China’s stories and a worldclass force in empowering global governance.

He also expresses his expectatio­ns of the university’s students. “Now our undergradu­ates are around 20 years old,” he says. “By 2050, when China fully achieves modernizat­ion, they will be about 50, serving as the pillars of China and the world. Their values, perception­s and abilities will determine China’s future, as well as the future landscape of the world.”

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 ?? Above: PHOTOS PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY ?? Top: Wang Dinghua, Party secretary of Beijing Foreign Studies University (center, second row), and its president, Yang Dan (sixth from right, second row), welcome some of this year’s freshmen in the campus gym earlier this month. A picturesqu­e area of the campus grounds.
Above: PHOTOS PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY Top: Wang Dinghua, Party secretary of Beijing Foreign Studies University (center, second row), and its president, Yang Dan (sixth from right, second row), welcome some of this year’s freshmen in the campus gym earlier this month. A picturesqu­e area of the campus grounds.

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