USP Chancellor and President of Vanuatu, His Excellency Womtelo Rev. Baldwin Lonsdale (third from right) with distinguished guests during the inauguration ceremony of the Confucius classroom.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) successfully opened the first ever Confucius classroom in its Cook Islands campus today.
Speaking at the inauguration, Cook Islands Minister of Internal Affairs, Honourable Albert Nicholas said that his Government welcomed the development which is integral to strengthening cooperation with the People’s Republic of China and enabling opportunities for the people and businesses of Cook Islands into the future.
Honourable Nicholas extended his appreciation to Professor Denggui Li, the Director of USP’s Confucius Institute who had visited Cook Islands last year and heeded the requests of Cook Islands Government for Chinese language facilities there.
Honourable Nicholas said that a number of sectors in Cook Islands will be able to benefit from the Confucius classroom facilities including foreign affairs, fisheries and the tourism sector.
He added that several Cook Islands individuals and businesses already deal directly with China and such interactions could further benefit from Chinese language capability.
The Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra said the Confucius Institute’s vision is to promote multiculturalism and build a harmonious world, through enhancing the understanding of Chinese language and culture in the Pacific.
While talking about the role of China in the Pacific, Professor Chandra highlighted that China’s impact and level of engagement in the region has been profound and is increasing at a very rapid pace.
He added that the Confucius Institute at USP is playing a critical role to strengthen the understanding and relationships between the people of the Pacific and China, and integrate the region into the global economy in which China plays a very prominent role as the second largest economy in the world.
Professor Chandra thanked the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing for their support. This support he said was matched by the equally strong support of USP’s partner university, the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.
Education Counsellor for the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, Mr Chen Yue said that despite the geographical distance between China and Cook Islands, the two countries steadily developed and expanded exchanges and cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic relations, as mutual understanding and friendship between them continue to deepen.
He highlighted that understanding is the foundation of friendship, and language is the bridge for communication.
“In July this year, the first “social beginner” class in Chinese language held at Cook Islands was greatly welcomed by the students and attracted widespread attention from local people, which demonstrated an urgent desire by people of Cook Islands to learn Chinese language and understand the Chinese culture,” Mr Chen Yue said.
On the same note, he mentioned that the Confucius classroom would become an important platform for Cook Islanders to gain understanding of China, its people and culture.
Present among the distinguished guests was the President of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Professor Qiao Jianyong, who thanked the USP Vice-Chancellor and staff of the University for their support towards the Confucius classroom at the Cook Islands campus.
He said that the attitude and work ethic of always striving to improve, that USP has adopted is the ultimate guarantee of the success of the Confucius classroom at Cook Islands.
Professor Qiao Jianyong highlighted that the inauguration of the Confucius classroom will be a successful contribution to his university’s 60th Anniversary celebrations on 18 October.
The campus also received a letter of congratulations from the Chief Executive of Confucius Institute headquarters, Ms Xu Lin who believes that through the joint efforts of both countries, the Confucius classroom will become an important platform for people of Cook Islands to learn Chinese language.
She also stated that it will also actively contribute to the people-to-people exchange between the citizens of both countries.
USP Chancellor and President of Vanuatu, His Excellency Womtelo Rev. Baldwin Lonsdale, Acting Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council Ms Fekita 'Utoikamanu and the Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra were also part of the inauguration ceremony of the Confucius classroom at the Cook Islands campus.
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