More Chinese should be encouraged to work as volunteers abroad so as to promote people-to-people exchanges and a better understanding of China, a political advisor said Thursday.
In this picture taken on February 10, Chinese language teachers who will work as volunteers abroad attend a training class held by the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters. The volunteers will be sent to the Philippines, Nepal, Indonesia and focus more on people-to-people exchanges. [Xinhua]
They can play a crucial role in "explaining China to world people," particularly when the country's rapid rise attracts worldwide attentions while meeting with "a variety of complicated reactions," said Zhao Qizheng.
Zhao heads the Committee for Foreign Affairs under the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, the top political advisory body that is holding an annual session in Beijing.
He said Chinese aid to other developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America should focus more on people-to-people exchanges, in addition to assistance in infrastructures.
"It costs about 200 million yuan (US$30.4 million) for China to help build a stadium overseas. The same amount of fund can support more than 2,000 volunteers working abroad for a year," said Zhao.
Volunteers are in a good position to conduct direct, close and long-standing exchanges with local people, he told a plenary session of the CPPCC National Committee.
Thousand of young Chinese volunteers have been to Laos, Ethiopia and other developing countries to offer help as teachers, doctors, trainers, and agricultural technicians, according to Zhao.
About 17,000 Chinese teachers and volunteers have been sent to the government-supported Confucius Institute projects, focusing on Chinese language teaching, in 117 countries and regions over the past six year, he said.
However, "more should be done to support the volunteers and improve their skills," he said. "This should serve as an indispensable part of China's public diplomacy."
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2011)