China-U.S. humanistic exchanges bear global significance

12:30, January 22, 2011      

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Chinese President Hu Jintao had a busy schedule from Tuesday to Thursday, meeting with U.S. leaders on major bilateral and world issues in Washington.

His diplomacy in the United States, however, turned somewhat light-hearted as he walked into a Chicago high school on Friday morning.

CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE AS A WINDOW

As the only Confucius Institute targeting primary and middle school students in the United States, the Confucius Institute in Chicago (CIC), housed in Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, was a highlight of Hu's four-day visit, which, apart from its diplomatic and economic significance, reflected China's desire to boost humanistic interactions with Americans.

At a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday, Hu reiterated the importance of extensively involving the two peoples in efforts to boost the China-U.S. partnership.

When meeting with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, Hu called on both sides to increase the awareness of the importance of China-U.S. ties, among their peoples, especially their youths; promote mutual understanding and friendship; give full play to their initiative to support the development of bilateral ties; and consolidate the basis of public opinions of the relations.

Commenting on Hu's visit to the CIC, former CIC head Robert Davis said it showed the great importance the Chinese government attaches to the exchanges between the next generations of the two countries.

Learning each other's language and knowing about each other's culture brings their hearts closer, Davis said.

Joseph Nye, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense and dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has described Confucius Institutes as "instruments of China's soft power," which can enhance the understanding of the Chinese culture.
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