Confucius Institutes key to China-Britain friendship: Chinese ambassador

Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in Britain have served as a bridge of friendship and understanding, and will make greater contribution in the future, said Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming in a signed article published Thursday.

During Liu's eight years as ambassador to Britain, he has seen the number of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms grow from 11 and 47 to 29 and 156 respectively, more than any other country in Europe.

Last year's enrolment in the country totalled 160,000, and more than 1 million people participated in over 4,000 cultural events hosted by Confucius Institutes, according to the article published in the Daily Telegraph.

Liu believes there are three major possible reasons behind the enthusiasm for Confucius in Britain. Firstly, there is an immense appeal of the 5,000-year Chinese civilization, whose vim and vigor are evident. Learning the Chinese language gives one the "golden key" to unlock the door to understanding it.

China's development "miracle" should also take credit, Liu said. In the four decades since the beginning of reform and opening-up, China has grown to be the second largest economy in the world, having lifted 700 million people out of poverty and made a major contribution to global development. The Chinese language enables a better understanding of the stories behind the "miracle" and greater benefit from the opportunities China has to offer.

The third factor is the China-Britain "Golden Era", launched during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Britain in 2015. The exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields have improved and led to fruitful results. The Chinese language has been the "golden bond" of friendship between the peoples of the two countries.

The ambassador also pointed out that there are still false accusations on the institutes, calling them "preposterous."

In response to those accusations, Liu said Confucius Institutes follow the principle of openness, focus on public well-being and exchanges, and adhere to transparent operation.

"The Chinese side respects the (foreign) host's right to make their decision in running the institute and never interferes in academic freedom," Liu said.

There is a complete system of open standards for the application, assessment, approval and establishment of Confucius Institutes, and every penny spent is according to laws and regulations, and can be tracked, Liu said.

The ambassador said that the Confucius Institutes have been able to grow because they represent the unstoppable historical trend towards greater mutual learning and exchange between different civilizations, which is the driving force behind human progress, peace and prosperity.

"The institute is initiated by China, but it belongs to the world," Liu said. "Looking ahead, the institute can make new and greater contribution to the progress of human civilization and to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind."

The enthusiasm for Confucius Institute is not only a British phenomenon. There are 525 Confucius Institutes and more than 1,000 Confucius Classrooms in 147 countries and regions, offering courses to over 9 million people.

Editor: 曹家宁