Confucius Institute for Adelaide
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon. Alexander Downer will launch a Confucius Institute at the University of Adelaide on 14 March, recognising the growing importance of China on a global scale.
Approval to set up the Institute in Adelaide has been given by the Chinese Government's Office of Chinese Language Council International (also known as Hanban). Partnering the University of Adelaide on this major initiative will be one of China's leading universities, Shandong University.
The Confucius Institute will promote the study and understanding of Chinese language, culture and its economy, as well as other issues relating to China's position in today's world. One of its key aims will be to encourage the teaching of Mandarin in South Australia at all levels - from primary school to university.
Adelaide is one of only three universities in Australia - the others are Western Australia and Melbourne - to be granted the right to establish a Confucius Institute to date.
More than 120 Confucius Institutes around the world have been approved by Hanban.
The establishment of the Confucious Institute in Adelaide is to be partially funded by the Chinese Government and will be located within the University's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
University of Adelaide Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor John Taplin says the Confucius Institute will become a focal point for South Australia in its relationship with China.
"There is growing recognition within Australia of the urgent need to study Asian languages and cultures," Professor Taplin says.
"Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, a Mandarin speaker, is on record as saying this will help to increase trade between Australia and the fastest-growing economies in the world. The former President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, has voiced his concerns that Australia is not doing enough to learn more about China and Asia."
The specific objectives of different Confucius Institutes vary, but their core function is to teach the Chinese language, train potential language teachers and host academic and cultural activities, promoting a better understanding of China.
"The Confucius Institute at the University of Adelaide will also provide information and advice about China to the South Australian business community," Professor Taplin says. "It will help increase our understanding of this globally important culture and economy."
The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China estimates that, by the year 2010, approximately 100 million people worldwide will be learning Chinese as a foreign language.
Shandong University is located in South Australia's sister city province in China's east, where Confucius himself lived some 2500 years ago. Shandong, which has a population of 90 million people, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its sister city relationship with South Australia in 2006.
Mr Downer will be joined at the official launch by University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor James McWha, Shandong University President Professor Zhan Tao, senior representatives from Hanban in Beijing and from the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.