|Consul General's Speech at UK&Ireland Confucius Institutes Annual Conference|
Honorable Vice Chancellor Sir Keith Burnett,
Respected Mr.Gu Zhenqiu, Head of Xinhua News Agency London Bureau,
Honorable Vice President Mr. Zhang Baozhen of Beijing Language and Culture University,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to attend the annual conference of UK and Ireland Confucius Institutes. First, I would like to thank the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) for choosing to hold this meeting in our consular district, offering us a valuable opportunity to benefit from discussions. My special thanks go to Sir Keith Burnett, who had stood together with the Confucius Institute through thick and thin for the past 11 years since he took up his post, which coincided with the founding of the Institute in the University.It was Sir Keith who had cultivated a then young sapling into a towering tree now. His outstanding contribution to the development of China-UK relations has been highly recognized by the Chinese government, when our Vice Premier invited him to receive awards at the Global Confucius Institute Conference and invited him to join the Confucius Institute Headquarters Council. Now, please join me giving him a warm round of applause as our tribute to him!
More than 400 years ago, an Italian priest Matteo Ricci translated the book "The Analects of Confucius"-- a collection of Confucius' words and deeds into Latin, and introduced Confucianism to the West. To date, there are 29 Confucius Institutes and 156 Confucius Classrooms in the UK, ranking the first in European countries. Among which, our Consular district plays home to 9 Confucius Institutes and 13 Confucius Classrooms since the establishment of the first Confucius Institute in 2006. The Confucius Institute not only provides Chinese language courses, but also actively promotes the China-UK trade and promotes cultural exchanges. If we compare the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations to a fragrant rose garden, then all the directors and teachers of Confucius Institutes are hardworking gardeners, devoted to maintaining and developing mutual understanding and friendship between the two great countries. "Respect teachers and value education" is the essence of Confucianism. Yesterday, students from all over China have just celebrated the "Teacher's Day". Hereby, please allow me to extend to all directors and teachers the highest regards on behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester.
One important topic of this conference is to discuss how to improve the effectiveness and quality of the cultural activities of the Confucius Institute. How should we measure the effectiveness and quality? It should be measured by whether local participants know more about China and Chinese culture through those activities. And by whether our Chinese students and local Chinese Communities get integrated into local society, get to know more about a modern UK full of fight and innovative spirit.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Chinese reform and opening-up. To quote from Chinese President Xi Jinping that "China's reform and opening-up is a great process of common development and progress for both China and the world." Taking this as a new start, we need to broaden our minds and introduce more reforms into the operation of Confucius Institutes, making them an effective cultural platform to connect the two peoples. To achieve this goal, the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester and myself would be quite willing to pledge further assistance .
To sum up, I wish this Conference a great success.