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Confucius Institutes:A Decade of Culture
Cover Stories Series 2014> Confucius Institutes:A Decade of Culture
UPDATED: November 5, 2014 NO. 46 NOVEMBER 13, 2014
Bridging Cultures

The Confucius Institute ushered in its second decade this year. Since the first Confucius Institute was established in Uzbekistan in 2004, 472 such institutes and 730 Confucius Classrooms have been established in universities, as well as elementary and secondary schools, in 123 countries and regions. Some 50,000 teachers and volunteers have been dispatched abroad, educating a combined total of approximately 850,000 students around the world. By teaching the Chinese language and introducing Chinese culture, the Confucius Institute has played an important role in promoting communication between Chinese and other cultures.

Many countries have made their own attempts to promote language and culture. For example, France has the Institut de France; Germany has the Goethe-Institut; and Spain has the Instituto Cervantes. Since the birth of the first Confucius Institute, the non-profit organization, by learning from the successful experience of its Western counterparts and combining the features of the Chinese language and culture, has developed a set of new methods suitable for its own experiment in disseminating language and culture.

The Confucius Institute, named after ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 B.C.), is a learning center set up in foreign universities or research institutes. One of its most important tasks is to provide standardized and authorized textbooks for Chinese-language learners around the world.

Confucius is regarded as a symbol of traditional Chinese culture. As early as 1593, The Analects of Confucius, a collection of Confucius' aphorisms and anecdotes compiled by his disciples, was introduced to Europe by Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610). Today, the institute bearing the philosopher's name has spread around the globe. It has become an essential platform for promoting cross-cultural communication in order to reach mutual understanding and build a harmonious world.

According to statistics, in the past 10 years, Chinese leaders have attended more than 200 activities organized by Confucius Institutes in different countries and regions. More than 200 foreign leaders have attended activities organized by Confucius Institutes in their countries.

On March 29, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited a Confucius Institute in Germany. When talking with German sinologists as well as faculty and student representatives in Berlin, Xi said, "Grasping a language is grasping the 'golden key' to a country's culture." As the "golden key" to Chinese culture, the Chinese language will help more foreign people understand the country's culture and create closer relations between the peoples of China and other countries.

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