|State Councilor Liu Yandong Conducts Cultural Exchanges in Northern Ireland|
On April 13, 2012, State Councilor Liu Yandong who was visiting Northern Ireland, the UK attended the inauguration ceremony of the Confucius Institute of Northern Ireland University and then visited and held talks with students and teachers of Queen's University Belfast.
Liu said that the high-level cultural exchange mechanism between China and the UK is the first one of its type established between China and EU members. It helps both sides increase understanding, learn from each other and consolidate the social foundation of friendship. Together with political mutual trust and business cooperation, they form the three major pillars of China-UK relations.
She pointed out that educational exchanges are the basis of cultural exchanges. China's Education Plan gives priority to opening up and cooperation. China will strengthen cooperation with famous international universities to cultivate talents with international perspective. She hopes universities of China and the UK step up exchanges between their students and teachers, learn from each other, jointly build the R&D platform, share quality resources and improve personnel training, scientific research, social service and cultural heritage and innovation.
She noted that language is the precursor of cultural exchanges and the instrument to make friends and enhance cooperation. At present, the UK has more than 500 primary and secondary schools offering Chinese courses and 19 Confucius Institutes, ranking the first in Europe. The Chinese government supports the learning of Chinese and the running of Confucius Institute which serves as a platform of cultural exchanges, channel of communications between civilizations and carrier of peace, friendship and cooperation.
First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness accompanied Liu during the tour. They expressed admiration on China’s economic and social progress and desire to strengthen pragmatic cooperation with China. The two sides enjoy significant potential of educational cooperation. Confucius Institute will become an important bridge for Northern Ireland and China to strengthen cultural exchanges and friendship.
Together with Minister of Education Yuan Guiren and Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming, Liu Yandong and leaders of Northern Ireland inaugurated the Confucius Institute. Students and teachers performed exquisite traditional songs and dances of China and Northern Ireland to welcome the distinguished Chinese guests.