March 12th, 2009 | Xinhua China has opened 256 overseas Confucius Institutes
China has half finished its goal to open 500 Confucius Institutes, the Chinese-language-promoting institutions named after ancient philosopher Confucius, an official said here Thursday.
A total of 256 Confucius Institutes and 58 Confucius classrooms have so far been established in 81 countries, compared with China’s goal to have 500 such institutes as of 2010, said Xu Lin, director of the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.
The number exceeded the planned 100 institutes as of 2008, said Xu, who is also general director of the Beijing-based Confucius Institute Headquarters.
She said people across the world have shown great interests in the Chinese language in recent years.
“More than 100 countries and regions have asked us to open the institutes there after the World Conference on Sinology was held in Beijing in 2007. Many college presidents came to our headquarters for discussion,” she said.
Vice Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng said the charm of the Chinese language is based on the country’s culture and development.
“People around the world want to study Chinese because they believe in a bright future of China,” Zhang said.
The Chinese government decided to set up Confucius Institutes in cooperation with foreign partners back in 2003 in a bid to promote the teaching of the Chinese language and the understanding of the Chinese culture worldwide.
Sponsored by China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, the first such institute opened in Seoul, capital of the Republic of Korea, in 2004.
Confucius Institutes worldwide have so far held 6,000 classes with more than 130,000 registered learners and organized 2,000 cultural activities with 1.4 million people attending, according to latest figures.