A Delegation Led by Yang Wei, President of CIEF, Visited Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia

2023-11-10 10:01:39

From October 25 to November 3, 2023, a delegation led by Yang Wei, president of the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF), visited Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia upon invitation. This is the first visit to foreign countries by the CIEF since its establishment, a concrete action to implement the important instructions stated in the reply letter from President Xi Jinping to the Confucius Institute (CI) at Durban University of Technology, South Africa, and a solid step taken to operate the brand of CI well.

The 2023 Malaysia Confucius Institute Conference

During the visit, President Yang Wei held talks with the heads of foreign partners of ten CIs and Confucius Classrooms, including Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, the Royal Academy of Cambodia, and the University of Malaya in Malaysia, on promoting the development of CIs and Confucius Classrooms and deepening pragmatic cooperation. The delegation conducted on-site research at local CIs and Confucius Classrooms, attended the opening ceremony of the 12th “Sirindhorn Cup” Chinese Speech Competition for Thai college students and the 2023 Malaysia Confucius Institute Conference, and visited the Chinese ambassadors to Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. They held in-depth talks and reached broad consensus with Chinese and foreign directors of some CIs on how to better leverage the role of CIs and Confucius Classrooms as the leading brand in the field of international Chinese language education and how to better serve the local economy, culture, and education.

During his stay in Thailand, President Yang Wei visited the foreign partners of five CIs and Confucius Classrooms to learn about the development of relevant institutions, CIs and Confucius Classrooms. Master Phraprommangkalachan, the chairman of the Maritime Silk Road Confucius Institute’s board of directors, who is influential in Thailand and respected by people from all sectors of Thai society, introduced the process of establishing the Confucius Classroom at Traimit Wittayalai High School, the world's first Confucius Classroom, and the creation of the Confucius Institute of Maritime Silk Road, Thailand, during the meeting. With a great contribution to the signing of multiple cooperation agreements between the education departments of China and Thailand, he stated that he would continue to strengthen support for Chinese language education in Thailand and cultural exchanges between the two countries, to promote the deep integration of the “Belt and Road” initiative, the “Thailand 4.0” economic development strategy, and the Eastern Economic Corridor project. Pattanant Petchchedchoo, vice president of Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU), pointed out that it was through the Confucius Institute of Maritime Silk Road that DPU has actively participated in the “Belt and Road” initiative and years of friendly cooperation has proved that the establishment of CI was the right choice for the university whether for international Chinese language education or for academic exchanges and cooperation. Bundhit Eua-arporn, president of Chulalongkorn University, commented that the CI has achieved outstanding results in its operation, provided a good platform for Thai people to learn the Chinese language, and played a positive role in promoting exchanges and cooperation between China and Thailand. Uraipan Janvanichyanont, president of Huachiew Chalermprakiet University, introduced that the CI jointly established by the university was featured with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and played an important role in the training of local TCM professionals and dissemination of TCM culture. Bancha Saenghuran, president of Assumption University of Thailand, spoke highly of the hard-working directors and teachers of the CI and personally showed the delegation around the teaching facilities of the institute. This university has been providing good working and living conditions for both teachers and students at the CI. Mr. Niti Ruangratanakorn, the general manager of school affairs of Sawang Boriboon Wittaya School, said that the Confucius Classroom of the school takes the responsibility of spreading and promoting Chinese culture and nurturing a new generation of talents who are proficient in Chinese. He said that the Confucius Classroom has expanded Chinese language education to the eastern part of Thailand through rich and colorful teaching and cultural activities, becoming a well-known brand of Chinese language education locally. Yang Wei expressed appreciation for the strict and pragmatic approach to the schooling of various partnering institutions and affirmed the achievements made by the CIs and Confucius Classrooms. CIEF will continue to work together with various institutions to provide support for the stable and solid development of CIs and Confucius Classrooms in Thailand and contribute to promoting cooperation in multiple fields between China and Thailand.

In his speech at the opening ceremony of the 12th “Sirindhorn Cup” Chinese Speech Competition for Thai college students, Yang Wei looked back on Princess Sirindhorn's contributions to promoting mutual understanding and long-term friendship between the Chinese and Thai peoples. He praised the Cis and Confucius Classrooms in Thailand for years of interpretation and practice of Princess Sirindhorn's expectation of “Sino-Thai brotherhood lasting forever” and their contribution to promoting friendly cooperation between China and Thailand in various fields. He also hoped that students and teachers could enhance their learning and teaching, respectively, and test the results of studying Chinese by participating in the competition and that all parties could continue to contribute their intelligence and wisdom to the development of the CIs that stick to the principle of “China and Thailand being one family” and to practice their values of life in the course of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

During his stay in Cambodia, Yang Wei visited the CI at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, the first CI in Cambodia, and the CI at the Cambodia University of Technology and Science, one of the first CIs established after the inception of CIEF. The CI of the Royal Academy of Cambodia was unveiled personally by Xi Jinping, then Vice President of China, in 2009. During its operation over the past 14 years, it has set up 23 teaching sites and trained a total of 110,000 students for various partnering institutions locally. Yang Peou, secretary general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that this CI has been focusing on encouraging digital transformation, strengthening capabilities in Chinese language education and cultural exchange, and trying to become a global example of CIs with digital empowerment and distinctive features. Fang Qiaosheng, chairman of the Federation of Khmer Chinese in Cambodia (FKCC), introduced the development of Chinese language education in Cambodia and expressed his wish for deep cooperation with CIEF to jointly innovate the modes of running schools of Chinese language education and the methods for nurturing talents. Yang Wei praised the two CIs for playing to their respective strengths and developing teaching methods with unique features. With its positive social influence, the CI at the Royal Academy of Cambodia has been playing an exemplary and leading role by continuously improving the quality of education and strengthening digital transformation. The “Chinese language + vocational education” undergraduate program offered by the Confucius Institute at the Cambodia University of Technology and Science is a good way to nurture talents with practical skills. With steady and sustainable progress, the two CIs are innovating towards digitization and specialization and leading the development of CIs.

During the delegation’s visit to Malaysia, the University of Malaya and Universiti Malaysia Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah (UMPSA) were in the process of a change of chancellors; therefore, the delegation was warmly welcomed by the vice-chancellors of the two universities. Yatimah Alias, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Malaya, introduced the university to the delegation in terms of its history, faculty, scientific research, and global influence and expressed gratitude and appreciation for the important role played by the CI of the university as a platform for Chinese language education, cultural exchange, and cooperation among universities. Ahmad Ziad Sulaiman, vice-chancellor of UMPSA, said that the CI of the university actively served local needs through featured courses such as “Chinese language + railway” and “Chinese language + steel industry” and used the CI as a platform to promote dual-degree joint programs between Malaysian and Chinese universities. During the 2023 Malaysia Confucius Institute Conference and the talk with the directors of these institutes, Yang Wei pointed out that CIs and Confucius Classrooms should continue to hold fast to the pragmatic principles of seeking cooperation, promoting development, serving the local needs and the development of students, and working together to make CIs and Confucius Classrooms better through ordinary and meaningful efforts. All these achievements cannot be made without a couple of key elements. One is the mutual respect and friendly cooperation between China and Malaysia. The other is the original aspiration of CIs and Confucius Classrooms to “promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges among countries and regions starting from language and utilizing cultural integration.” This is the essence, the strength, and the source of vitality of CI as a brand.

This visit strengthened the friendly relationship between CIEF as the brand operator and the partners of CIs, continued the tradition of close contact with local CIs, and realized the goal of effective communication and pragmatic cooperation. During the visit, the delegation was warmly welcomed by various CIs and their partnering institutions and received strong support from the Chinese embassies abroad, laying a solid foundation for further implementation of the next measures.

President Yang Wei was accompanied by Zhao Lingshan, vice president and secretary general of CIEF, and relevant staff from the Division of Administration and the Division of Policy and Development during the visit.

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