The 2017 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa opened here on Thursday with the Zambian government underscoring the importance of the institutes to foster cultural cooperation between China and Africa.
Zambian Vice-President Inonge Wina said the new chapter of cooperation between China and Africa lies in the ability of Confucius Institutes to bring peoples together through the promotion of language and culture.
“We can make Confucius Institutes places of great cultural exchanges for the good of our peoples. Confucius Institutes have brought us closer. They have highlighted the beauty that lies behind our diversity,” she said in a speech read on her behalf by Minister of General Education Dennis Wanchinga at the start of the two-day conference in Lusaka, the Zambian capital.
According to her, globalization has reduced the barriers to interaction among nations, adding that Confucius Institutes could be true platforms of a win-win cooperation between China and Africa.
The Zambian vice-president further expressed gratitude that the Confucius Institute headquarters in China has built a language and cultural museum at the Confucius Institute in Zambia to host both Chinese and Zambia language and culture.
She said her government was committed to ensuring that the relations with China continue growing, adding that the government has since chosen Chinese as one of the three foreign languages being taught in schools while the Chinese language has been incorporated into syllabuses for junior and senior secondary schools.
Zambia, she said, was committed to ensuring the continued growth of the relations with China, adding that China has been an “all-weather” friend not only to Zambia by the African continent as a whole.
Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming advised the Confucius Institute to cater for the actual learning demand of people in different countries and also to take into consideration unique conditions of each country.
He hoped that Confucius Institutes will give play a fair play and promote both the Chinese and African culture.
The Chinese envoy said it was obvious that Confucius Institutes have become platforms of cultural exchanges between China an African countries and expressed gratitude at the uptake of the Chinese language in Zambia.
According to him, since its establishment seven years ago, the Confucius Institute has developed significantly in Zambia with one institute, two classrooms and 17 Chinese language teaching points, with more than 8,000 students.
The two-day conference has attracted directors of Confucius Institutes from various African countries as well as representatives of Chinese enterprises in Africa.
Apart from an exhibition of Confucius Institutes in Africa, the conference will have various presentations on the promotion of people-to-people exchanges, how political mutual trust and economic and trade cooperation could promote the development of Sino-China relations as well as vocational and technical training.
The conference will also tackle cooperation between Confucius Institutes and Chinese-funded agencies.
According to figures, there are 48 Confucius Institutes in 37 African countries as well as 27 Confucius Institutes classrooms and more than 400 teaching centers.