Visitors learn Chinese calligraphy during the unveiling ceremony for the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University, in southern California, the United States, March 26, 2009. The Confucius Institute, jointly set up by by San Diego State University and China's Xiamen University, was unveiled on Thursday. (Xinhua/Yu Dabo)
SAN DIEGO -- A Confucius Institute was inaugurated in the southern California city of San Diego on Thursday, in a move to further expand cultural exchanges and educational cooperation between China and the United States.
The school, co-sponsored by Xiamen University of China and San Diego State University, will launch Chinese language training programs for local teachers and assist schools in developing Chinese language programs.
It is the first Confucius Institute in San Diego County. There are currently more than 60 similar institutes in the United States.
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong praised China-U.S. relations while addressing the inauguration of the institute, describing it as "at a new historical starting point."
"I am pleased to see that, through concerted efforts in the past 66 days of the new U.S. administration. The transition of bilateral relations has been smooth," Zhou said.
He said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi exchanged visits shortly after the first telephone call between the presidents of the two countries in January, and the two sides have reached important agreements on developing China-U.S. relations and expanding bilateral cooperation in various areas.
"It is the common aspiration of the Chinese and American people, and it serves our fundamental interests to ensure healthy and steady development of this bilateral relationship in the coming years and beyond. Our experience from the past three decades tells us that, to ensure sustained and steady development of China-U.S. relations, it is crucial to observe the following principles," Zhou said.
He mentioned the principles as: approach and manage China-U.S. relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, continue to promote common interests and mutually beneficial cooperation, adhere to the principles of the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, and respect and accommodate each other's core interests.
Zhou said China and the United States are partners in cooperation, not strategic rivals. China-U.S. relations are mutually beneficial and a win-win relationship rather than a zero-sum game. Greater cooperation between the two countries is good for both China and the United States, as well as the Asia-Pacific region and the rest of the world.
China is ready to work with the new U.S. administration and American friends from all walks of life to build a better future for China-U.S. relations, Zhou said.
Lilly Cheng, managing director of the Confucius Institute, said: "Students from around the world are learning the Chinese language, but in the United States there are not enough skilled teachers to teach it more widely, and we plan to be the teacher training hub for the Chinese language and help our community to develop this critical language need."
The institute's provost, Nancy Marlin, said: "It is essential that higher education reflects the increasing global prominence of China. I am extremely proud that the Confucius Institute will enable San Diego State to take a leadership role in this critical area."
The Confucius Institute will also hold a month-long international study abroad program this summer in Shanghai to provide students with an opportunity to experience China's culture, society, history and economy.
The institute's Chinese language courses will be available in the autumn, which will help students develop language skills and increase awareness of the particular challenges facing learners of Chinese as a second language.
In addition, it will host a series of classes for business executives on the Chinese economy and language, teaching them the fundamentals of doing business in the Chinese market.
During the inauguration ceremony, Chinese calligraphy, tai-chi and qi-gong, were also demonstrated to the visitors.
SOURCE: Xinhua by George Bao
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