Ulster Confucius Institute 'Cultural Milestone'

The setting up of the Confucius Institute of Northern Ireland (CINIU) at the University of Ulster will be a milestone in the relationship between both NI and China, according to a senior Chinese diplomat.

The comment came as the Chinese Consul-General was the guest of the University's Vice Chancellor, Richard Barnett, to mark the link-up with China in securing the Institute, which is to be located at the Faculty of Arts.

Li Ruiyou told a select number of guests as a special lunch in Jordanstown on Tuesday - involving members of the Chinese community, local business people, a journalist and academics - that he was encouraged by the steady and vigorous development of collaboration and exchanges between Northern Ireland and China in business and education.

"I'm very happy to know that the Confucius Institute at Ulster will soon be established," he said.

"This is a milestone in education and cultural exchanges between China and Northern Ireland."

Like the 322 other Confucius Institutes operating in universities in 50 countries, CINIU will encourage private and public sector companies and organisations wishing to trade and engage with China to study not only the language but the business and administrative culture, its customs and practices to gain a competitive advantage.

It will promote the training of primary and secondary school teachers in teaching the Chinese language, history and culture to their pupils as well as facilitating artistic, cultural and academic exchanges between China and Northern Ireland.

Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, welcomed the support CINIU had received in the political, business, cultural and educational communities in Northern Ireland and China.

"This is a very exciting development not just for the University of Ulster or our partner university in Zhejiang but for Northern Ireland and for China," he said.

"With China poised to take over as the world's largest economy, Northern Ireland cannot afford to focus solely on relationships with Boston and Berlin.

"It must also develop a relationship with Beijing. A working knowledge of China's languages, cultures, customs and practices will give people Northern Ireland a competitive advantage as it develops those relationships."


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