A number of northwest China universities have set up Confucius Institutes in central Asia to promote Chinese language and culture.
Confucius Institutes, which are non-profit organizations that work to promote Chinese language and culture worldwide, have recently opened in various central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Many of them were founded by leading universities in northwest China, including Xinjiang Normal University and Xinjiang University, based in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region that neighbors central Asia, and Lanzhou University in Gansu Province.
At the end of last year, more than 3,000 students were studying at the Confucius Institutes founded by Xinjiang Normal University in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, said Guo Weidong, dean of the university's school of international cultural exchanges.
"The demand to learn Chinese language and culture in central Asia is a result of China's overall development," said Guo. "Confucius Institutes are like a cultural icon, indicating China's self-confidence and openness to the outside world."
In Kyrgyzstan many people, including teachers, government employees, college students and businessmen, are now studying Chinese in their spare time, he said.
"It's sort of trend for young people in Kyrgyzstan to study Chinese," said a Kyrgyz student at the Urumqi-based Xinjiang University.
Altogether 282 Confucius Institutes have been set up worldwide at higher education institutions, according to the Beijing-based Confucius Institute Headquarters. They are jointly controlled by Chinese and foreign universities,
Confucius was an ancient Chinese philosopher whose thoughts are still cherished today.