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Confucius spirit promotes understanding
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It is only three years since the founding of the first Confucius Institute. More than two hundred such schools across the world are now offering a new window on China. Representatives from many countries have gathered in Beijing to discuss the significance of the phenomenon.


In this world of multiculturalism and economic globalization, you will be at an edge if you can speak the language of over a billion people. One out of four people in the world speaks Chinese. And about thirteen thousand people will also become Chinese speakers, as they study the language at Confucius Institutes.


Gary Sigley's fluency in Chinese is a result of 19 years of study. When asked why he picked up the language, his answer is to be the next Australian Prime Minister.


Language is only the beginning for those wishing to learn more about China and the Chinese. They can also gain an understanding of the country's culture, through history, arts, and literature. The classes include both ancient and modern culture.


The Office of the Chinese Language Council contributes expertise to overseas Confucius Institutes, and the local teachers also take advantage of their own resources.


Timothy O'Shea, principal & vice chancellor of University of Edinburgh, UK, said, "We employ the local teachers who have background and experience in China and the Chinese culture."


Confucius once said all who are encompassed within the Four Seas are brothers. In this age of globalization, existing cultural diversities and language differences demonstrate the need for improved communication. The many Confucius Institutes all around the world contribute to a better understanding, ensuring the spirit of Confucius is still alive and well.


( December 13, 2007)

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