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China, Serbia to Set Up First Confucius Institute in Balkans
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China and Serbia signed an agreement in Belgrade on Monday to cooperate in the setting up of a Confucius Institute here, the first of its kind in the Balkans.


The agreement on the founding of the Confucius Institute, an overseas organ for promoting the Chinese language, was signed by China's Nanjing Normal University board president Shen Jian and Belgrade University Chancellor Dejan Popovic.


According to the agreement, the Confucius Institute involves Chinese language teaching, training of teachers, Chinese language tests and contests as well as introduction to China's history and status quo.


Addressing the signing ceremony, Shen said his university was authorized by the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing to cooperate with Belgrade University to realize the project.


He said his university would do its utmost to support the project and expand exchanges and cooperation between the two universities and countries.


By March 2006, there were 54 Confucius institutes being set up or under construction in 30 countries and regions, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education.


"The spreading of Chinese culture and of the teachings of the great Chinese philosopher are the basic tasks of the Institute," Chancellor Popovic said after the signing of the agreement.


The already exceptional relations between the academic circles of Serbia and China, now have a new dimension, said Popovic, adding that the two universities would very soon establish a series of other forms of cooperation.


The signing ceremony was attended by Chinese ambassador to Serbia-Montenegro Li Guobang and senior officials of the Belgrade University.


In January 2005, China and Serbia signed a memo on education cooperation, including the setting up of a Confucius Institute in Belgrade.


(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2006)

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