On Dec 10th and 11th, the 11th Confucius Institute Conference was held in Kunming, Yunnan Province, with the theme of “Innovation, Cooperation, Inclusion and Sharing”. A total of approximately 2,200 delegates attended the conference, including university presidents and representatives of Confucius Institutes from 140 countries and regions, envoys from foreign embassies in China, and representatives from Chinese partner institutions. The Open Ceremony was chaired by Mr. Chen Baosheng, Minister of Education of China and Vice Chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters. Liu Yandong, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Vice Premier of the State Council and Chair of the Council of Confucius Institute Headquarters, delivered a keynote speech. She emphasized that at present, it is a common expectation around the world to build new-type international relations centered on win-win cooperation, and create an intertwined community with a common destiny. Confucius Institutes are expected to further reform and innovation on faculties, teaching materials and teaching methodologies, expand their functions, improve the education quality, and pursue qualitative development. It is imperative to give full play to cooperation between Chinese and overseas universities, optimize the mechanism of the Council of the Confucius Institute, and push forward in-depth cooperation on school-running. It is imperative to promote localized development of Confucius Institutes, persist in opening up in the course of school running and propel mutual learning between different civilizations. It is imperative to meet the demands of the “Belt and Road” initiative, reinforce cross-border cooperation among Confucius Institutes, strive to make sure the benefits can be shared by all countries, and make new contributions to the development of diversified and colorful cultures.
Li Yuanyuan, Member of the Council of Confucius Institute Headquarters and President of Jilin University, was invited to address the Opening Ceremony on behalf of Chinese partner institutions. According to Li Yuanyuan, after 12-year development, the Confucius Institute has become a crucial component of the international strategy of Chinese universities and partner universities abroad. Chinese universities and colleges are attaching increasingly greater importance to the construction of Confucius Institutes, and improving the policies of Confucius Institutes to keep abreast of times, and steadily and continuously facilitating the development of Confucius Institutes. He noted that confronted with dramatic changes of global situation, Confucius Institutes are playing an even essential role as a cultural bridge between China and the rest of the world and a unique role in deepening mutual understanding between people from different regions and countries.
During the Confucius Institute Conference, President Li Yuanyuan met with delegates from overseas Confucius Institutes sponsored by Jilin University present at the conference. At the meeting, President Li Yuanyuan expressed his warm greetings and his expectations in four areas. First of all, integrating teaching between Confucius Institutes and overseas universities and colleges. Secondly, diversifying courses opened in Confucius Institutes, so as to better complement local education and development of local communities. For example, incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese folk arts and traditional Chinese physical education into the current curriculum. Thirdly, enlarging investment in academic research and expanding the academic influences of Confucius Institutes. Lastly, based on the platform of Confucius Institutes, comprehensively promoting the strategic cooperation between Jilin University and overseas partner universities. President Li Yuanyuan also pointed out that Jilin University will further enhance its support for the construction of Confucius Institutes abroad, and make improvements so that more and more Confucius Institutes sponsored by Jilin University can be awarded the title of “Confucius Institute of Distinction” and “Model Confucius Institute”.
The annual Confucius Institute Conference is a grand gathering of Confucius Institutes around the world, aiming at summarizing experiences, intensifying exchanges and strengthening cooperation. The conference this year includes seven Presidents’ Forums, i.e. “Confucius Institutes’ Experiences and Challenges in Cooperating with Universities”, “Development of Confucius Institute for the Next Five Years”, etc. and Directors’ Forums titled “Quality of CI Directors and Teachers”, “A Global System for Chinese Language Proficiency Tests Service”, etc. During the conference, a meeting on international exchanges of Chinese culture such as traditional Chinese medicine and Taiji, Confucius Institute and the “Belt and Road” Initiative Roundtable Forum were held.
At present, five Confucius Institutes are established in partnership with Jilin University, namely, Confucius Institute of Rutgers University (CIRU) in New Jersey, US; Confucius Institute at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Confucius Institute at National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv, Ukraine; Confucius Institute at Kansas State University, US; and Confucius Institute at Hanyang University, South Korea.