Hungary's Minister of Education and Culture Hiller Istvan said Friday that more than 200 Hungarian students had signed up for Chinese classes at the Eotvos Lorand University's Confucius Institute since it was set up almost a year ago.
"The Confucius Institute in the Eotvos Lorand University, one of the best universities in Hungary, has played a key role in strengthening educational cooperation between the two countries, Istvan told Xinhua at the ongoing Shanghai International Arts Festival. "It has prominently promoted Chinese-language teaching in the country."
The Beijing Foreign Studies University and Hungary's Eotvos Lorand University established the European country's first Confucius Institute in December last year.
"The registration of 200 Hungarian students, which seems a small number, is already a great figure for a country like Hungary," Istvan said. He added the Confucius Institute offered both language programs and Chinese cultural courses which greatly enhanced the two nations' cultural and educational exchange.
"China is a 'power engine' of the world's economic development in the 21st century," said Istvan, adding Hungarians should know more about China as both countries had long histories and traditions.
To promote Chinese language and culture abroad, China has set up 140 Confucius Institutes in 52 countries and regions worldwide. This year, it has planned to set up 60 more institutes.
Confucius, born in 551 B.C. in the northern Shandong Province, was a great Chinese thinker, philosopher, statesman and educator. He was also the founder of Confucianism.
Advocating the building of a harmonious society through individual self-refinement in manners and taste, Confucianism dominated Chinese society for centuries and spread to Europe in the late 16th century.
At the month-long Shanghai arts festival that runs until Sunday, Hungary is presenting its classic symbolic ballet "Human Anthem" (Beethoven Symphony No.9), jointly staged by the Hungarian National Ballet and Shanghai Opera House, and Anton Chekhov's classic drama "The Seagull" to be performed by the country's Kretakor Theater.
Other Hungarian programs are also currently on show. The "Hungarian Season in China", which was launched in September, involves a series of Hungarian cultural promotions and has been staged in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Its theme, "Freedom and Love", was inspired by the works of renowned poet Petofi Sandor who enjoyed huge fame in China in the early 20th century.
Istvan said after discussing with Chinese cultural and educational ministers, the two countries have decided that China would hold a series of cultural activities in Hungary next year. The China Writer's Association would also visit the country and jointly hold exhibitions. He added Hungary had already started its preparation for activities for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo."