China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and Yale University announced their cooperation on a Chinese-learning publication project in Beijing Thursday. Both parties echoed each other in hoping that this would set a significant precedent in facilitating the study of Chinese by foreigners.
The signing ceremony held on May 17 at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse was graced by the presence of Cai Mingzhao, vice minister of the State Council Information Office and president of CIPG, and Richard Levin, president of Yale University, who jointly signed the Memorandum of Understanding.
The guest list read like a veritable Who's Who with those in attendance including Fawn Wang, Yale University Assistant Secretary, Li Dongdong, vice minister of China's General Administration of Press and Publications, Zhou Mingwei, CIPG executive vice president, Ma Jianfei, deputy director-general of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, Wu Wei, deputy director-general of the State Council Information Office's Third Bureau, and Prof. Lu Jianming with Peking University and also chairman of the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching. Also attending were dignitaries from senior government departments including the Ministry of Education, the State Commission of Development and Reform, the Ministry of Finance, and All-China Youth Federation.
Cai's speech at the ceremony acknowledged the rapid rise in the popularity of Chinese learning around the world, with 30 million foreigners currently studying Chinese. This impressive figure is set to soar even further to reach 100 million in 2010. Cai also praised the in-depth joint research carried out by CIPG and Yale across North America and Europe, aiming to put forth a thorough Chinese language instruction program, entitled "I Speak Chinese."
"This textbook would be multimedia-styled," Cai revealed at the ceremony, "Over the next two years, we will slowly integrate a series of tie-in products, such as an electronic, interactive, web-based textbook among others. We thus hope to cater to the needs of many types of learners.”
According to Cai, "I Speak Chinese" will first come out in its Chinese-English version, but other languages will slowly be added to the mix.
"This will mark a new achievement for both of our companies in promoting Chinese language in the international community, and stand out as a major China-US cultural exchange. We will do our utmost to create a uniform global Chinese-learning trademark," he added.
This Chinese language instructional program will act as a support structure for Chinese classes at high school level and above, while also servicing the needs of private individuals and businesses.
"Yale's partnership with CIPG is an important element of our long-standing relationship with China," Richard Levin said in his speech. "Today marks the formal start of another project which will result in the creation of an innovative set of materials for teaching Chinese as a second language. This project represents a major opportunity to establish Yale and CIPG as the world's leading creators and distributors of materials for Chinese language teaching."
CIPG and Yale University's cooperation began in the 1990s when the two broke new ground in co-publishing the Culture and Civilization of China series. This project marks the second, long-awaited, cooperation between the Ivy League college and CIPG. Yale has a reputation for producing high-quality language textbooks, universally acclaimed in the US while CIPG is China's oldest publishing group, incorporating publishing houses, magazines and China.org.cn, a major government news website.
The Yale University 100-strong delegation, led by President Richard Levin, yesterday had the single honor of meeting President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Zhang Rui, May 17, 2007)