Since the world's first Confucius Institute was opened in Korea in November 2004, the Confucius Institute has already become a global brand and a platform for disseminating Chinese culture and promoting Chinese language instruction.
The Confucius Institute has had a strong development momentum overseas in recent years. Xu Lin, Director of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, said that as a non-profit public institute set up overseas with the aim of teaching the Chinese language and disseminating Chinese culture, the Confucius Institute's most important task is to provide uniform and authoritative modern Chinese language teaching materials. And also provide a standardized Chinese language teaching channel for Chinese language learners worldwide.
Statistics show that to date, a total of 256 Confucius Institutes and 58 Confucius Classrooms have been established in 81 countries worldwide. In 2008, Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms offered over 6,000 classes for various types of Chinese language courses, registering 130,000 students. Over 2,000 cultural exchange activities of all kinds were held, with over 1.4 million attendees.
Zhang Xinsheng, Vice Minister of China's Ministry of Education, noted that the reasons for the Confucius Institute's rapid development lie in China's development, the changing international situation as well as a shift in the balance of power. China's diplomatic policies highlighting peace, development and cooperation have been recognized by other countries. The Chinese traditional culture of balance advocates harmony. These factors all are components of the backdrop for the fast development of the Confucius Institute.
Ji Baocheng, President of Renmin University of China, said, "The fundamental reason for the world's current pressing needs for Chinese language instruction is the tremendous change of China itself." He added that thanks to 30 years of reform and opening-up, China's economic strength has exhibited great improvement. Other countries' interests in China's politics and economy have inevitably extended to the cultural area, putting forth requirements for Chinese language learning.
Zhang said that facing the financial crisis, the Confucius Institute has demonstrated its strong "capacity to resist risk." An overwhelming majority of Confucius Institutes are mainly financed by foreign investors, but China insists on a 1:1 proportion between domestic and foreign investment for the initial capital for operations. Because of this, the development of the Confucius Institute still maintains a continued and steady momentum.By People's Daily Onlinehttp://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2009-03/13/content_210625.htm