Confucius Institutes welcome sponsorship, says Chinese official

UPDATED: 11:38, June 24, 2007

There are many ways to set up a Confucius Institute and different types of sponsorship are welcome, an official with the Chinese Language Council International said in Beijing Saturday.

By June 1 this year, 156 Confucius Institutes had been launched in 54 countries and regions, with sponsorship from governments, companies or educational institutes.

Named after the famous ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius

institutes have become overseas centers to spread Chinese language and culture around the world.

Apart from the 156 already-approved ones, the office has so far received 205 overseas applications to launch new Confucius Institutes, said Xu Lin, director of the office.

In her office, the fax and telephone are kept busy all day long receiving applications. "We hope to have a total of 200 Confucius Institutes worldwide at the end of this year," she said.

"The rapid increase in the number of Confucius Institutes reflects the growing demand to learn Chinese worldwide," Xu said. "More and more businessmen have realized the importance of learning Chinese, given China's growing importance in the world."

China is now the world's fourth largest economy, contributing a yearly average of 13 percent to world economic growth over the past five years.

According to Xu, a London-based Confucius Institute specially for businessmen has been jointly launched by Chinese and foreign companies and universities.

"Diversified sponsorship will help Confucius Institutes fit into the local scene," Xu said.

Xu said an online Confucius Institute would be launched as soon as possible, and an internet-based data bank on Chinese language teaching will also be set up.

China has redesigned Chinese language learning radio programs in 38 foreign languages and is preparing for the launch of the Confucius Institute on TV.

Xu revealed that the office is planning to draw up standards on learning Chinese and on teaching Chinese to non-Chinese speakers. The 2nd International Conference on the Chinese language is scheduled for the latter half of this year.

Confucius, born in 551 B.C., was a great Chinese thinker, philosopher, statesman and educator. He advocated the building of a harmonious society through individual self-refinement in manners and taste. Confucianism dominated Chinese society for more than one thousand years and became known in Europe in the late 16th century.

In an effort to promote Chinese language and culture, China held the 1st International Conference on the Chinese language in July 2005.

The Ministry of Education said 30 million people overseas are learning Chinese and the figure may hit 100 million by 2010.

Source: Xinhua

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