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First Confucius Institute Opens in Canada

The first Confucius Institute on Tuesday opened in Vancouver and was warmly acclaimed by both the Canadian and Chinese sides.

Visiting Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili inaugurated the opening of the institute, which was also attended by a group of Canadian officials.

The opening of the institute not only strengthens Canada-China relations but also benefits Canadians, especially those interested in doing business and tourism with the fast-growing Asian country, according to officials from both countries at the inauguration ceremony.

"I believe the Confucius Institute would serve as another important bridge between Canada and China and further enhance understanding and cooperation between the two countries, " said Chen, who inaugurated the Confucius Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

Chen's remarks were echoed by Shirley Bond, Deputy Premier and Education Minister of British Columbia, a province reputed as Canada's major gateway to international trade with Asia.

"As bilateral trade and exchange between B.C. and China grows, we have to strengthen all our opportunities including education," Bond said.

"The Confucius Institute at BCIT builds on our ongoing relationship with China, a relationship I look forward to making even stronger in the future," She said.

The Confucius Institute, established in February 2006 by the BCIT with the support and accreditation of the National Office of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language under the Chinese Ministry of Education, is housed on the eighth floor of BCIT's downtown Vancouver campus. It has multifunctional classrooms, language and computer labs, and a Chinese library with support from China.

The purpose of the institute is to promote cultural exchange, economic development, trade and cooperation between Canada and China through delivering courses and conducting programs related to China and teaching Chinese Language to Canadians.

Its operation will follow BCIT's polytechnic vision: to provide practical, hands-on innovative and collaborative instruction that responds to industry needs.

"We are aiming to give the students an appreciation of the rich Chinese culture, an orientation to the structures and practices in China and the tools to be successful in establishing meaningful ties with China," said Dr. Tony Knowles, BCIT's president.

Instructors at the institute, as planned, will come from BCIT and other organizations in British Columbia as well as from China, students will have access to first-hand knowledge on topics related to the Chinese culture, trade and economy.

BCIT is the largest post-secondary institution in British Columbia with more than 48,000 full and part time students pursuing a variety of polytechnic programs leading to degrees, diplomas and certificates.

(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2006)

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