THE University of Ulster heralded a new dawn in relations with China with the opening of the Confucius Institute at the Jordanstown campus.
Northern Ireland’s only Confucius Institute formally came into being with a colourful opening ceremony in Jordanstown attended by China’s most senior female politician, Madame Liu Yandong, along with the First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and University of Ulster Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett.
The event, which featured Chinese and Irish music and dancing, Chinese calligraphy and bagpipe playing, was also attended by various dignitaries and prominent figures from education, business and politics from across the province and China.
University of Ulster Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett said the setting up of the Confucius Institute was a significant milestone in Northern Ireland and Chinese relations.
“The University of Ulster was delighted last year when the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Council for the Chinese Language, Hanban chose our bid to establish Northern Ireland’s only Confucius Institute,” he said.
“Since then, the university has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with our partner university in south east China, Zhejiang University of Media and Communication and we are excited at the possibilities this initiative opens for students and staff in both countries but also for wider society.
“Confucius Institutes not only promote the teaching of Chinese language and culture but facilitate the training of language teachers, cultural and academic exchanges and research into China’s education system, economy, the arts and society.
“In doing so, they have become a vital cog in the relationships China builds with the countries in which they operate.
“The institute will not, however, solely be an academic concern. Like other Confucius Institutes around the world, it will be a valuable resource which business, other educational institutions and cultural organisations can tap into to strengthen their ties and deepen their understanding of China.”
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