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First Confucius Institute established on the air
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China yesterday established its first Confucius Institute on the air at China Radio International (CRI), offering Chinese language teaching in 38 foreign languages worldwide.

The broadcast Confucius Institute, jointly set up by the Office of Chinese Language Council International, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), Confucius Institute headquarters and CRI, is to meet surging overseas demand to learn the Chinese language, according to Zhang Xinsheng, vice minister of education.

The institute will offer Chinese teaching programs by wireless broadcasting and online broadcasting based on the uniform study materials compiled by the Office of Chinese Language Council International to learners worldwide, said Geng Qingqing, a CRI official.

The founding of the Confucius Institute on air marked a milestone in the field of Chinese language promotion, said Hu Zhanfan, deputy director of the SARFT.

Named after the famous ancient Chinese philosopher, more than 200 Confucius institutes have been set up in more than 60 countries to spread Chinese culture.

Confucius, born in 551 BC, was a great thinker, philosopher, statesman and educator. He advocated building a harmonious society through individual self-refinement in manners and taste. His theory, dubbed Confucianism, had dominated Chinese society for more than 1,000 years and was known in Europe in the late 16th century.

Over the past 66 years since it was founded, the CRI has provided lectures and programs on Chinese language education in 38 foreign languages.

Education ministry figures show currently 30 million people overseas are learning Chinese and the figure may hit 100 million by 2010.

(Shanghai Daily, December 7, 2007)

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