The Chinese government and people will continue to support Confucius Institutes as the Chinese education centers abroad enter their second decade of existence, according to comments attributed to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday.
At a ceremony marking the first Confucius Institute Day and the 10th anniversary of the institutes' establishment, Vice Premier Liu Yandong read from a letter written by Xi in which he congratulated teachers and students of Confucius Institutes all over the world.
The institutes, named after ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, serve as non-profit public institutions to help foreigners better understand China through language teaching and culture introduction in universities overseas. The first such institute was established in 2004.
To date, China has opened 465 Confucius Institutes in 123 countries and regions. There are also 713 Confucius Classrooms operating in middle and primary schools.
"Confucius Institutes belong to China and the world as well," Xi wrote. "Let us make joint efforts to promote civilization among mankind, enhance people's heart-to-heart communication and create a brighter future for mankind together".
The president said that he has received letters from 286 principals of Confucius Institutes from 90 countries and regions upon the anniversary.
"You mentioned that the Confucius Institute is a symbol of China's unremitting efforts for world peace and international cooperation and links the Chinese people and people of other countries. And you have full confidence in the bright future of the institutes. I deeply appreciate those remarks," Xi said of the letters.
Over the past 10 years, the institutes have been vigorous in launching Mandarin teaching and cultural communication programs and have played an important role in appreciation of world civilizations and in enhancing understanding and friendship between Chinese people and people of other countries, he said.
Xi praised Confucius Institute principals for their enthusiasm and efforts in disseminating knowledge and promoting hearth-to-heart communication.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also wrote a congratulatory letter, urging the institutes to further improve teaching quality and contribute more to promoting the diversity of world cultures. His letter was also read by Liu during Saturday's ceremony.
Liu said that she hoped the institutes can better meet foreigners' needs of learning Mandarin and about Chinese culture.
Delegates at the institutes' global conference in December 2013 set Sept. 27, 2014 as the first Confucius Institute Day.
The presidents of over 400 universities of more than 100 countries and regions have sent letters expressing support for the institutes.
Many foreign universities held ceremonies marking the Confucius Institute Day. On Saturday,the Confucius Institute of Victoria University of Wellington held a ceremony in the New Zealand capital to embrace the special day for the Chinese cultural and educational flagship program.
Confucius Institute at University of Botswana on Friday held an event to celebrate the Confucius Institute Day in Gaborone.
Ceremonies marking the first Confucius Institute Day or 10th anniversary of the institute's establishment were also held over the past a few days in countries including Turkey, Pakistan and Cambodia.