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China to Open Confucius Institute in Belarus
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A Confucius Institute will be opened by China in Belarus later this year or early in 2007 to cope with the growing demand from Belarussian people to learn Mandarin.


The Office of the Chinese Language Council International and the Belarussian Ministry of Education will actively promote and cooperate in the establishment of the Confucius Institute, according to an agreement signed by the two on Thursday.


The Confucius Institute was initiated in 2004 and is a non-profit school specializing in Chinese language education and cultural communication.


Anatoly Afanasievich Tozik, the Republic of Belarus' ambassador to China, said three schools in Minsk, the Belarussian capital, started to offer Chinese courses this year with 91 first-year primary school students in the first group of language learners.


Tozik said he hoped the Institute would not only serve as a platform for language learning but also as a center to study the Chinese economy, science, culture and philosophy.


China plans to invest 200 million yuan (US$25 million) in promoting Chinese language teaching abroad this year, according to Zhao Guocheng, a senior official with the Office of the Chinese Language Council International. "China has now signed agreements with 51 countries and regions around the world to set up Confucius Institutes," Zhao said.


(Xinhua News Agency November 17, 2006)

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