China Establishes 440 Confucius Institutes Worldwide

  • December 9, 2013
  • Editor: Liu Yunting
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China Establishes 440 Confucius Institutes Worldwide
Chinese Vice Premier and President of the Confucius Institute Headquarters Council Liu Yandong (L) presents an award to outstanding individuals who have contributed to the development of Confucius Institutes during the opening ceremony of the Eighth Confucius Institutes Conference in Beijing on December 7, 2013. [nankai.edu.com]
China has established 440 Confucius Institutes and over 500 Confucius Classrooms in 120 countries and regions over the past few years, according to the Eighth Confucius Institutes Conference that kicked off in Beijing on December 7, 2013.

During the two-day event, more than 2,000 local and foreign university presidents and heads and representatives of Confucius Institutes from more than 110 countries gathered in Beijing to share their education experiences and exchange ideas.

The Confucius Institute and Confucius Classrooms, both named after the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, serve as non-profit public institutions aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture in foreign countries.

In her address to the opening ceremony of the conference, Chinese Vice Premier and President of the Confucius Institute Headquarters Council Liu Yandong called for further development of the Confucius Institute to promote cross-border cultural exchanges. She said that this year saw sound development of the Confucius Institute, which has satisfied demand for Chinese studies and promoted friendship ties between people from China and other countries.

Liu said that the Confucius Institute serves as an important platform for cultural exchanges between Chinese people and people from foreign countries, and she said she hoped the institute would further expand its scale and improve the quality of Chinese language teaching.

Minister of Education Yuan Guiren hosted the opening ceremony on the day, during which outstanding individuals and institutes were honored. Case-study forums and book exhibitions were also held during the event.

Interest in Confucianism revived in China after Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Confucius' hometown of Qufu in east China's Shandong Province, during which he emphasized the need to revive the country's traditional culture.

Xi said scholars should "make the past serve the present" and "keep the essential while discarding the dross" when researching ethics passed on from the nation's forefathers and called for the promotion of morality across society and "a pursuit of a beautiful and lofty moral realm from generation to generation."

Confucius (551–479 BC) was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period (from approximately 771 until 476 BC) of Chinese history. Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. Confucius's thoughts received official sanction in the early Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and were further developed into a system known as Confucianism.

After establishing a pilot institute in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in June 2004, the first Confucius Institute opened on November 21, 2004 in Seoul, South Korea. Hundreds more have since opened in dozens of countries around the world with the highest concentration of Institutes in the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

Confucius Institutes/Classrooms adopt flexible teaching patterns and adapt to suit local conditions when teaching Chinese language and promoting culture in foreign primary schools, secondary schools, communities and enterprises.

The world is seeing a sign of the growing importance and popularity of learning Chinese. In 2012, seven countries, including the United Kingdom (U.K.), Sweden, Ireland and Serbia, issued new policies to teach Chinese as a foreign language in classrooms, becoming part of the 40 countries which have included Chinese language education into their national education systems.

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Debates have sprung up across China over plans to move Teachers' Day, which currently falls on September 10, to September 28, believed to be the birthday of Confucius.

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