Deepening Cooperation, Developing through Innovation,
Working Together to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

[Source]    Xinhua News Agency [Time]    2017-12-13 17:48:36 

The 12th Confucius Institute Conference was held in Xi’an on December 12th. Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the State Council and Chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, attended and addressed the conference. The conference was themed on building a community with a shared future for mankind through cooperation and innovation. Nearly 2,500 people, including university presidents and representatives of Confucius Institutes from over 140 countries and regions, attended the conference.

Liu Yandong noted that President Xi Jinping pointed out that the Confucius Institute is a window and bridge of language and cultural exchanges between China and other countries. The Confucius Institute belongs not only to China but also to the world at large. Since its establishment thirteen years ago, especially in the last five years, with joint efforts of both Chinese and foreign sides, the Confucius Institute has adhered to joint construction and co-sharing and made active contributions to enhancing the friendship between the peoples of China and other countries and promoting exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and foreign civilizations. By now, 525 Confucius Institutes and 1,113 Confucius Classrooms have been set up in 146 countries and regions, with an accumulated enrollment of 9.16 million students of various types.

Vice Premier Liu Yandong presenting the award to an outstanding Confucius Institute

Liu Yandong stressed that the Confucius Institute should, taking language communication as a bond and mutual learning of civilizations as a platform, strive to become a friendship-enhancing bridge and a propeller of win-win cooperation. The Confucius Institute should optimize the layout, improve the level of institute-running, deepen reforms in faculties, teaching materials and teaching methods, strengthen the training of local teachers, and provide services for diversified and localized needs of various countries. It is necessary to improve the institutional mechanisms, bring both Chinese and foreign sides into play, and build a brand of cultural exchanges featuring inclusiveness, co-sharing, harmony and joint development, so as to make new contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Minister of Education Chen Baosheng presiding over the opening ceremony of the conference

The representatives attending the conference spoke highly of President Xi Jinping’s concept of a community with a shared future for mankind and the Belt and Road Initiative. They said that they will take an active participation, strengthen cooperation, and give full play to the Confucius Institute in cultural exchanges between Chinese and foreign sides and in building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Before the conference, Liu Yandong also held the council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters and attended the Confucius Institute national working conference.

(Story by Xinhua News Agency, Xi’an, December 12th)

The following is the full text of Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 12th Confucius Institute Conference:

Deepening Cooperation Developing Through Innovation
Working Together to Build a Community of Shared Future for Mankind

Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 12th Confucius Institute Conference

LIU Yandong
Vice Premier of P. R. China
Chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters

12 December, 2017
Xi’an, Shaanxi

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

Good morning!

Today, more than 2000 delegates from Confucius Institutes of over 140 countries gather here in the ancient capital Xi’an to attend the 12th Confucius Institute Conference. As is well depicted in the lines of a Song Dynasty poet “Time knows neither early nor late, Chang’an festivity to date”,we know nothing about the winter coldness outside only the warmth inside at this yearly reunion of the Confucius Institute family. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Government and the Confucius Institute Headquarters, I’d like to extend my warm congratulations on the opening of the Conference, as well as sincere greetings to our colleagues and friends from all over the world! I’d also like to express our heartfelt thanks to Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government and Xi’an Municipal People’s Government for their support and service!

I think it of great relevance to theme our discussions over the Confucius Institute reform and development strategies on “Deepening Cooperation, Developing through Innovation, Working Together to Build a Community of Shared Future for Mankind”. Four years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to build a community of shared future for mankind and to jointly pursue the Belt and Road Initiative, in the belief that the prospects and destinies of every nation and country shall be connected closely together, share weal and woe; and that countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road shall establish a platform for mutually-beneficial cooperation and common development on the basis of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits so as to build a community of shared future for mankind and turn planet earth into a harmonious family. His proposition has been gaining wide support and positive feedbacks around the global community. Today we gather here in Xi’an, which is not only a historical and cultural heritage city of world fame but also the witness of mutual learning between civilizations and friendly people-to-people exchanges: it was from here that the famous Han Dynasty cultural envoy Zhang Qian started a mission of peace and expanded the overland trade routes to central Asia 2,100 years ago; it was also from here that the renowned Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang journeyed westward to India to bring back original Buddhist sutras over 1,300 years ago. With the Belt and Road international cooperation advances in depth, the ancient city of Xi’an renewed its vitality at a new historical starting point. The thriving Silk Road Spirit and the Confucian maxim “all under heaven are one family” are consistent and complementary with the Confucius Institute mandate of facilitating mutual learning between civilizations and strengthening the friendly relations between Chinese people and peoples of other countries. I believe, under the concerted efforts of the Confucius Institute family, this Conference will generate more common understanding and outcomes regarding pragmatic cooperation and reform through innovation to inject a new momentum into the future development of global Confucius Institutes.

The five speakers before me have made very good presentations. I am particularly impressed by the experience Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., President of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, shared with us regarding the collaboration between the University of Maryland and Nankai University in building the first Confucius Institute in the U.S. and even the world 13 years back; and by the narration of Professor Anatoli Tozik, former Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus and Director of the Republican Confucius Institute of Sinology at Belarusian State University, about how the Confucius Institute helped China-Belarus Industrial Park train staff to serve the Belt and Road Initiative; and by the inspirational story told in fluent Chinese by Ms. Ghofran Shamseldin Babiker Ali (AKA Li Can), a student of the Confucius Institute at the University of Khartoum in the Republic of Sudan, who has overcome unimaginable difficulties to master the Chinese language. Her optimism and strong determination greatly inspired Chinese language and cultural learners around the world. I propose we give all the speakers a big applause again for their insightful presentations!

What they told us showed an overall picture of the solidarity and cohesion of the Confucius Institute family as well as the latest developments of global Confucius Institutes and international Chinese language teaching over the year of 2017. In the passing year, Confucius Institutes received more attention from China and related governments as more people start to learn Chinese language as well as to know about China and Chinese culture. President Xi Jinping stressed on the development of Confucius Institute in the bilateral joint statement signed during his first trip abroad after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Premier Li Keqiang also expressed his support for the Confucius Institute during his recent visit abroad. Twelve heads of state or government (including Cambodian, Tanzanian, Chilean, Croatian and Australian) and more than 440 political dignitaries and ministers of over 60 countries attended activities of Confucius Institutes; and in the Netherlands, Ireland, Russia and Italy, exam syllabus was revised to include Chinese in the high-school graduation exam list, which will further heat up the worldwide “Chinese-learning fervor” and “China fervor”.

It has been 13 years since the first Confucius Institute was established in 2004. All these years, particularly the past 5, have seen an extraordinary course of development for the Confucius Institutes. Under the care and support of different countries and peoples, they have taken on brand new looks, and become an active practitioner of and a strong driver for the initiative of a community of shared future for mankind.

1. By adhering to co-construction and sharing, Confucius Institutes have fit themselves into featured win-win cooperation in line with international practice. Since its inception, as is pronouncedly provided in the Constitution and Bylaws of Confucius Institutes, the Confucius Institute has been devoted “to strengthening educational and cultural exchange and cooperation between China and other countries, to deepening friendly relationships with other nations, and to promoting the development of multi-culturalism”. Over the years, Confucius Institutes have been upholding the principles of mutual respect, friendly negotiation, equal partnership and transparent communication; advancing the unique operation model of collaboration initiated in practice; highlighting the roles of social entities and market mechanism; engaging the partners in co-construction, joint-management, shared ownership and benefit; widely involving local governments, schools, enterprises and social groups in their development; to gain popularity among different countries and peoples.

2. By adapting readily to local needs, Confucius Institutes have become a famed language and culture communicator with global presence and inclusiveness. The Confucius Institute is born in an era of economic globalization and cultural diversity, which has since committed to satisfying the urgent demands of people all over the world for the learning of Chinese language and knowledge about China and its culture. Up till now, a total of 525 Confucius Institutes and 1,113 Confucius Classrooms have been established in 146 countries and regions, engaging some 46,000 full- and part-time China-sent and overseas Chinese teachers, offering 410,000 language courses in accumulation, and reaching out to some 9.16 million students with various programs. As the global Confucius Institute family grows in size, more people are attracted to it.

3. By taking quality as the lifeblood and resorting to intensive development, Confucius Institutes are forging themselves into an international educational community with global recognition and influence. With education quality as the lifeblood, Confucius Institutes have been strengthening the building of institution, standard and content as well as deepening reforms on the teacher, learning resources and teaching methods. Over the past decade, we have selected and dispatched 100,000 Chinese directors, teachers and volunteers; cultivated and trained 300,000 overseas Chinese teachers; collaboratively developed 9,300 volumes of textbooks and cultural reading materials; made better use of the modern teaching means, such as the internet and big data; had over 30 million people to take various Chinese language proficiency tests. These efforts further increased the influence of Confucius Institutes.

4. By diversifying the service functions, Confucius Institutes have become an integrated platform of language teaching, cultural exchange, academic researches and social services. Adhering to collaborative models with flexibility and tenacity while catering to local conditions, Confucius Institutes are encouraged to seek featured development by highlighting their respective domains and strengths in language teaching, academic research, cultural exchange, or vocational training and to enhance their overall service capacities. Confucius Institutes worldwide have staged over 220,000 cultural activities to an audience exceeding 100 million. With their active involvement in the sister school and friendly province/state cooperation as well as economic and trade and people-to-people exchange programs between China and their host countries, they are turning themselves into effective strengths in the Belt and Road international cooperation.

5. By facilitating two-way exchanges, Confucius Institutes have become a bridge of friendship for the heart-to-heart communication between Chinese people and peoples of other countries. Over the years, Confucius Institutes have enrolled 39,000 youths from other countries to study in China under the Confucius Institute Scholarship program; initiated the “Confucius China Studies Program” and sponsored over 2,000 experts and scholars to conduct researches in China; upgraded the “Chinese Bridge” competitions participated by more than 1 million youths and young students; sent more than 300 Chinese university/college delegations on exchange missions abroad, to present Chinese culture and contemporary China on the one hand, and to learn from other civilizations to broaden their vision and deepen friendship on the other hand; hosted over 10,000 foreign delegations or more than 200,000 teachers and students on their educational or cultural exchange trips to China; held the global Conference and regional and country-specific Confucius Institute joint conferences on yearly basis to share experiences and showcase different cultures. These efforts established the Confucius Institutes as important contributors to the exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations.

“Running like streams, time and tide wait for no man”. I have been in the position of Chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters for a decade. Over the past 10 years, I visited 36 Confucius Institutes/Classrooms in 24 countries of 5 continents, and attended activities such as the “Chinese Bridge” Competition and the World Conference on Sinology, to experience in person the extraordinary burgeoning process of the Confucius Institutes, to witness with my own eye the laudable achievements made by Confucius Institutes in different countries, and to bear in my mind numerous pleasant, warm and touching moments. I can still recall the students of Pusat Bahasa Mandarin at Maranatha Christian University of Indonesia who spoke on “My Chinese Dream”, to express their wish to become the envoy of friendship between the two countries; students of Confucius Institute at Technical Vocational Education and Training Institute of Ethiopia who told me that vocational training courses offered by the Confucius Institute helped them get stable jobs in local China-funded enterprises to change their life; students of the Confucius Institute at Catholic University of Chile enchanted by the art of Chinese calligraphy when one of them wrote down “相知无远近,万里尚为邻 (Distance cannot separate true friends who feel so close even when they are thousands of miles apart)”; students at the University of Edinburgh of the U.K. who staged artistic performances of blended style to showcase the fruits of people-to-people exchange at the opening ceremony of its model Confucius Institute; students of the Confucius Institute at the George Washington University of the U.S.A. who expressed their gratitude to the Confucius Institute for helping them understand the authentic and charming China; students at the Confucius Institute in Auckland of New Zealand who said that even the Pacific could not prevent the Confucius Institute from drawing people’s heart closer. I should like to say, from Eurasian to Africa, America, and Oceania, I felt everywhere people’s true love and fondness of the Confucius Institutes which have grown into authentic “spiritual high-speed railways”, connecting the Chinese with other nations.

Under the joint efforts of both sides, the Confucius Institute has grown from a toddler to an energetic youth, with improved ability to enhance the understanding and friendship between people of China and other countries and to facilitate world peace and development as well as the progress of world civilizations. It cannot be achieved without the support of relevant governments and peoples, without the painstaking efforts and wisdoms of Confucius Institute faculties all over the world, including all of you sitting here. Over the past 10 years, more than 200,000 council members of the Headquarters, Chinese and overseas presidents, directors, full- and part-time China-sent and overseas Chinese teachers have devoted their passion and affections and made indelible contributions to this great cause. Hereby, I would like to extend my highest esteem and sincere gratitude to all the delegates present here and through you to Confucius Institute faculties all around the world and friends of all walks of life in your respective countries!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

The world is undergoing major developments, transformation, and adjustment. Global multi-polarity, economic globalization, IT application, and cultural diversity are surging forward while peace and development remain irreversible trends. And yet, as a world we face growing uncertainties and destabilizing factors. Global economic growth lacks energy; hotspot issues arise often in some regions; and unconventional security threats like terrorism, cyber-insecurity, major infectious diseases, and climate change continue to spread. We live in a “global village”. Never before have the destinies of different countries been so closely linked as they are today; and never before have risks and challenges been emerging in such an unending flow as they are today. No country can survive and address alone the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation. Only by working together to build a community of shared future for mankind is it possible for us to have an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.

Now, China’s development has been put to a new starting point. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China convened a month ago fully elaborated on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and drew a blueprint for China’s development up to the middle of the 21st century, that is, to build China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful, thus embarking China on a new journey toward future development. China cannot develop without the world and its development will certainly bring up new opportunities for world prosperity.

Embarking on a new journey, China is going all out for fairer and more sustainable development of higher quality and efficiency. Next year, China will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of launching the reform and opening-up policy. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China 68 years ago, especially after nearly 40 years of the reform and opening-up, China has developed itself from extreme poverty into the world’s second largest economy, getting some 700 million people out of poverty. Particularly in the past 5 years, China has maintained an average annual economic growth rate of 7.1%, contributing more than 30 percent of the global economic growth. We have taken 360 major reform initiatives and more than 1,500 reform measures in the development of economic, political, cultural, social and ecological civilization, which has greatly inspired creativity and vitality throughout society. A whole batch of state-of-art innovations came out in succession; new industries, new types of business, and new business models constantly surged up; and our sharing economy reached RMB 3.5 trillion yuan in size. The high-speed railway, Alipay, shared bicycles and online shopping were acclaimed by our international friends as the new “four great inventions” of China. Currently, China’s economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development. With the new development concepts of innovation, coordination, green development, opening-up and sharing proposed, we intend to rapidly transform our growth model, pursue supply-side structural reform as our main task, and work hard for better quality, higher efficiency, and more robust drivers of economic growth through reform to continuously release the vitality of development.

Embarking on a new journey, China will always take people’s aspirations to live a better life as the focus of our efforts. The principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved into the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. In the past, we worked to resolve the problem of insufficiency; while now we are striving hard to improve the quality. With a dependent population of 230 million people aged over 60 and 260 million students studying in various types and levels of educational programs, in addition to over 30 million people living below the poverty line, a yearly demand for over 13 million more jobs, and a single-year 7.93 billion hospital visits, China is facing with difficulties and problems rarely seen in both scale and complexity. We are making headways towards common prosperity for everyone, intending to make the cake big and share it fair, that is, to ensure and improve people’s well-being through development, to ensure people’s access to childcare, education, employment, medical services, elderly care, housing, and social assistance, and to see that all our people have a strong sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security.

Embarking on a new journey, China is ready to make due contribution to the peace and stability, common development and prosperity of the whole world. The thought of “all under heaven are one family” has long been the ultimate pursuit of the Chinese; the commitment to peace, concord and harmony is deeply rooted within the Chinese civilization and nurtured over a history of more than 5,000 years. Being committed to forging a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, today’s China will open even wider to the outside world. In the next 15 years, it is estimated that China will import USD 24 trillion worth of goods, attract USD 2 trillion overseas direct investments, make USD 2 trillion of overseas investment, and have over 2 billion outbound tourists. Next November we will hold the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, the first-ever import-themed international expo in China and in the world. The dream of the Chinese people is closely connected with the dreams of the peoples of other countries. We will stay on the path of peaceful development, and continue to pursue a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. We will promote the Belt and Road international cooperation and actively develop global partnerships. We will boost cross-cultural exchanges characterized by harmony within diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual learning, for the concept of a community of shared future for mankind to take root, blossom, and bear fruit.

As a country of over 1.3 billion people, China contributes to the construction of a community of shared future by maintaining its own long-term stability and development. A more open and prosperous China will surely become a cooperation platform for other countries to get onboard the “express train” of China’s development. As an important channel of the internationalization of Chinese education, a communicator of the Chinese culture, an important window for the world to know China, and a vast platform of people-to-people exchanges, the CIs denote not only providers of Chinese language and culture learning opportunities but also decoders of understanding and friendship as well as a golden key for deepening mutually beneficial cooperation. In other words, China’s development and world trend have created unprecedented opportunities for as well as higher requirements on the Confucius Institute.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

The initiative of building a community of shared future for mankind originated in China but represented the greatest common divisor of all peoples in the world for peace, development and prosperity. Confucius Institute belongs to China and also belongs to the world, carrying the natural mission of building a community of shared future for mankind. More than 2,000 years ago, Confucius proposed that “within the four seas, all men are brothers” and took the “world of great unity and harmony” as his lifelong pursuit. The Confucius Institutes need to highlight their unique strengths and undertake more responsibilities to play a greater role in the building of a community of shared future for mankind. On this, I have several proposals to share with you:

1. To be advocator of mutual learning between civilizations, so that we can contribute more wisdom to the initiative of building a community of shared future for mankind. As the epitome of the wisdom and hard efforts of peoples of different countries, the Confucius Institutes undertake the mission of providing Chinese language teaching services to the world, spreading the Chinese culture and promoting exchanges between cultures. It is essential that the language be used as a bridge for cultural blending and heart-to-heart communication. A keen sense of a community of shared future for mankind must be fostered and long-term plans formulated on scientific basis. We should set up practical examples to motivate partners on both sides towards respect for the diversity of civilizations; to facilitate harmonious coexistence of different civilizations to replace estrangement with exchange, clashes with mutual learning, and superiority with coexistence.

2. To be constant pursuer of higher educational quality, so that we can offer diversified new services well-tailored to local conditions. Quality is the Confucius Institutes’ lifeblood and No. 1 guiding tenet. Confucius Institutes should adhere to the path of intensive development, implement quality upgrading projects, deepen the reforms on teachers, learning resources and teaching methods and put in place an overall performance assessment system and a quality standard system. Teachers training bases will be established within Chinese partner universities on trial basis to facilitate professional directors and teachers’ team and their career building. Explorations are made into ways to expand the Confucius Institute Scholarship program enrollment size, the overseas Chinese teacher reserve and vacancies, to consolidate the foundation for further development. To address diversified needs around the globe and to offer services of even better quality, efforts need to be made to build upon the teacher and textbook standards, curriculum and exam syllabus; to collaboratively compile up-to-date and widely applicable Chinese textbooks and cultural reading materials; to strengthen brand programs as “Chinese Bridge” and “China Festival”; and to launch the “New Six Arts” Chinese culture teaching and experience programs.

3. To be practitioner of cooperation on equal footing, so that we can open up new space for wider involvement of various social sectors. The operation model of collaboration is a great innovation of the Confucius Institute while full public involvement its unique strength. Confucius Institutes should be committed to deepening pragmatic cooperation on equal footing, to reinforcing the consultation and decision-making capacity of the council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters and individual boards of directors, to increasing points of common interest, to expanding cooperation in various fields covering staff and student sharing, academic exchange and joint discipline building. Confucius Institutes should make hard efforts to win over great support from the respective governments, to give full play to the roles played by the partner universities on both sides, to mobilize more enterprises, social groups and other potential stakeholders to get involved, and to make The International Society for Chinese Language Teaching and the World Conference on Sinology long-term mechanisms, so that we can pool together wisdom and forge a synergy to open up new prospects.

4. To be champion of pioneering innovation, so that new brands may be shaped out of in-depth development of people-to-people exchanges. “The new replacing the old is an ongoing process not interrupted by time.” The Confucius Institutes derive unending vitality from reform and innovation to make full use of the latest technology and media such as the internet, big data, and artificial intelligence; launch internet-based teaching programs; and develop MOOCs, teacher training and resource-sharing platforms; initiate the “Understanding China Fellowship” and upgrade the “Confucius China Studies Program” in hope of telling Chinese stories well and contributing Chinese wisdom; facilitate two-way exchanges in consideration of local conditions; take active part in pursuing the “Belt and Road” Initiative; find our precise position and seek featured development in the multi-dimensional all-round cooperation between China and other countries; and build a people-to-people exchange brand characterized by inclusiveness, sharing, and harmonious coexistence so as to promote the closer people-to-people exchange, heart-to-heart communication and friendly ties between nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

“When spring is around the corner, grass and trees grow exuberant, covering hills with lush verdure.” Under the cover of winter apathy, the vigor of spring stirs. Standing at the starting point of the ancient Silk Road and looking to the future of the development of Confucius Institutes, we can’t help feeling being deeply bounded by a glorious mission. The Chinese government and people will support the development of Confucius Institutes as always, and this policy will never change! Let us stand, hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder, ready to bring ourselves to a brighter future through hard efforts and make greater contribution to exchange and mutual learning between civilizations and the formation of a community of shared future for mankind!

2017 is drawing near to an end and the new year of 2018 is just around the corner. Let me take this opportunity to wish all of you in advance a happy new year, good health, family happiness, and good luck in everything!

Thank you!