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The Second Executive Workshop for Confucius Institute Directors 2010- Learning from each other and making progress together

XMUICE    Public:ICE    Datetime:2011-4-26

Opening ceremony: Directors of Confucius Institutes get together at Xiamen University

On 9th August 2010, the Second Executive Workshop for Confucius Institute Directors 2010 was held at Xiamen University, attracting some 70 Local Directors from Confucius Institutes in 25 countries and regions including the US, Britain, Germany, Russia, France, Japan, Korea, Argentina, and the Hong Kong SAR. They came together to learn more about Chinese culture, to exchange ideas on running Confucius Institutes, to discuss making development plans, and, in sum, how to achieve the sustainable development of the Confucius Institutes.
This workshop was co-organised by the Hanban - the Confucius Institute Headquarters - and the Xiamen University Southern Base of the Confucius Institute Headquarters. It offered an opportunity for the Directors of Confucius Institutes around the world to share their insights and opinions from the perspective of international co-operation, and was designed to promote the future development of Confucius Institutes. During the one-week workshop, the participants took part in extensive discussions on the history of Chinese civilisation, Sino-foreign cultural exchanges, Sino-foreign foreign policies, economic policies, laws and regulations, co-operation in education and marketing strategies for Confucius Institutes. Most of the Directors were experts in both their native language and Chinese, and had great interest in and knowledge of Chinese culture.
The welcoming address at the opening ceremony was given by Xiamen University Vice-President Wu Daguang. He extended his welcome and gratitude to the Directors and guest speakers at the workshop, and gave a brief introduction to the history, current status, and future goals of Xiamen University. He hoped that the workshop would contribute further to cultural exchanges between China and other countries. Papers on various themes were given by experts in different fields, including: Distinguished Professor Ge Jianxiong, Librarian of Fudan University; Director of China International Publishing Group, Associate Professor Zhou Mingwei; Writer-in-Residence at the Central Research Institute of Culture and History, Professor Shu Yi; well-known expert in strategic management, Professor Mo Shaokun; Vice President of the Foreign Affairs University, Professor Zheng Qirong; Director of Xiamen National Accounting Institute, Professor Deng Liping; Dean of the Xiamen University School of Law, Professor Xu Chongli; Deputy Director-General of the National Centre for Education Development Research of the Ministry of Education, Dr. Zhou Mansheng; and Dean of the Peking University Enterprise Business College Research Centre, Professor Lai Weimin.
The workshop focussed on preliminary investigations and developing features of Confucius Institutes, and, in addition to the theme papers, included case studies, discussions and the sharing of ideas, cultural experience events, and site visits. The discussions covered the managerial situation, long-time development, operating model and policy direction of Confucius Institutes, furthering the Director´s understanding of the construction of the Confucius Institute Headquarters and related policies. The workshop also shed light on the problems faced in operating Confucius Institutes, and put forward solutions to help the Directors in policy-making and leadership. It laid a solid foundation for the sustainable development of Confucius Institutes by improvements to their quality and standards.

Professor Deng Liping: China´s economy - yesterday, today, and tomorrow

On August 10th, Professor Deng Liping delivered a paper entitled A Note on the Chinese Economy as part of the discussion of China´s reform and opening up and economic policy at the workshop. His paper was divided into four parts: an overview of China´s economy; the fundamental economic elements of contemporary China; the adjustment and further reform of China´ economic structure after the financial crisis; and facing the new world economic order from the perspective of China.
Prof. Deng gave a brief introduction to the development of China´s economy since the founding of the PRC and evolution of its economic reform after the launching of the Reform and Opening-up policy. Prof. Deng explained the concept and connotations of the socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics on the basis of an analysis of the socialist system, market mechanisms, opening to the outside world and phases of development. In his discussion of the fundamental economic elements of contemporary China, he explained that China´s urban-rural structure and unbalanced regional development were economic issues resulting from conditions specific to the country. He said only by understanding China´s economy in the past was it possible to have a better understanding of its economy today and look to its future in a composed, optimistic, reasonable and clear manner. During the financial crisis of the previous year, China had taken effective measures to reform its economic structure. This was a clear example of the advantage of macro-economic control in tackling the financial crisis.
Prof. Deng finished by saying that China maintained a relaxed attitude towards the open world. It had made every effort to promote global governance and win-win co-operation, one fruit of which was the Confucius Institutes. Economic globalisation was making our world ever smaller. We lived in a "global village" with different cultures and values. This was the purpose behind the existence of the Confucius Institutes; they promoted communication and understanding between different cultures, with the ultimate aim of contributing further to world peace.

Professor Xu Chongli: a legal system with Chinese characteristics

On August 10th, Professor Xu Chongli gave a paper entitled The Comparison of Laws between China and Foreign Countries during the session of the workshop of China´s laws. He began by discussing the basic types of legal system, saying that China´s system was a combination of a common law system and a civil legal system. Laws were enacted in respect of two values or goals, formal justice and positive justice, and substantial justice and procedural justice. China´s legal system emphasised both of these.
He said that western legal culture was characterised by individualism while that of China was based on collectivism, national interests and social interests. In legislation, western countries emphasised public choice, whereas China´s laws placed great importance on the collective interests of the country and society. Professor Xu illustrated the differences between the laws of China and those of other countries by looking at mandatory punishment, administrative law, and civil and commercial law. On the basis of this detailed comparison of the legal systems of China and other countries, Professor Xu concluded that China´s legal system was a modern system with its own characteristics.

Professor Lai Weimin: Creating new values - the distinctive development of Confucius Institutes

On August 11th, Professor Lai Weimin spoke on The Marketing Strategy, competitive advantage, and sustainable development at the session on marketing and financing of the workshop, on the basis of a comprehensive SWOT analysis of the development of the Confucius Institutes.
Professor Lai began by briefing the audience on SWOT analysis, extensively used in strategic research and competitive analysis. He said that the development of a Confucius Institute could be compared to that of an enterprise, and be analysed in the same way in terms of internal advantages and disadvantages, and external opportunities and threats. He said that the most important thing in successful marketing was to know the needs of consumers, and suggested that the Directors should investigate the reasons and needs which led their students to study at their Confucius Institute. At the same time, the Directors should also conduct a sample-survey of those who did not study at the Confucius Institute to find out their unmet needs. He stressed that the development of the Confucius Institutes should be based on catering to the needs and unmet needs of "consumers" in order to create new values.
Professor Lai finished by proposing that the Confucius Institutes should take full advantage of China´s strengths, its traditional culture, the attraction of its language and its fast developing economy, to further their development. He said that co-operation among Confucius Institutes should also be strengthened, through such means as collaboration in publicity, regional exchanges, and the sharing of experiences among Confucius Institutes working in the same language and region. Communication and co-operation among Confucius Institutes should not only be about finding out about each other´s management experiences, but should also result in the benefit of saving resources and improving efficiency to create new values. Given that Confucius Institutes were dotted all around the world, Professor Lai recommended that Confucius Institutes of different regions should build their own characteristics based on the local conditions.

Group discussion: open communication to shape a better future

The discussion session on sharing experiences at the Second Executive Workshop for Confucius Institute Directors 2010 was held on August 12th. The Directors were divided into two groups: an Asian group and a non-Asian group. They exchanged ideas on their experiences of co-operation and discussed fully the problems their Institutes faced.
The Asian group discussion focussed on three questions: firstly, that Confucius Institutes needed to be positioned in terms of teaching the Chinese language and academic activities; secondly, how to attract more students; and thirdly, the development of textbooks in Chinese, English and the local language. Professor Koh Hockkia of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore shared his experience in running Confucius Institute. Its activities came under three headings: academic research; lectures, performances, and exhibitions; and language teaching in primary and middle schools. Professor Zhang Weixiong of Sapporo University in Japan spoke on three matters: co-operation between Chinese Director and Local Director; collaboration between the Chinese university and the local university; and the sustainable development of the Confucius Institutes. He suggested that, in the coming years, much more attention should be paid to the branding and trademarking of the Confucius Institutes, to connections between Confucius Institutes of different regions, and textbooks in minority languages.

The non-Asian group discussion included three main sections: firstly, communication between different parties; secondly, the different responsibilities of the Chinese Director and Local Director; and the financial concerns of Confucius Institutes. Professor Wachowicz Stuart, Director of the Confucius Institute at Edmonton in Canada said that Confucius Institutes should play to their own strengths and try to gain the support of the local schools and community in their areas. Ms Nora Yao of the University of Auckland in New Zealand summed up the discussions. Four points in the experience of running Confucius Institutes were brought out: firstly, strengthening Chinese Directors´ administrative abilities; secondly, training Local Directors in policies of the Hanban before their taking up the post; thirdly, the promotion of good interpersonal relations; fourthly, clarifying job responsibilities. Ms Yao also put forward two suggestions. The first was that each Confucius Institute should start by formulating clearly its own rules and regulations and that the funding for the project fund should cover all the expenses involved; the second was that the Hanban could set up mechanisms in each country or region to pass on the experience of established Confucius Institutes, and that local conferences should be held on a regular basis to reinforce the relationships between the Hanban, the Confucius Institutes and the local Chinese embassy.

Closing ceremony: learning from each other and making progress together

The Second Executive Workshop for Confucius Institute Directors 2010 came to a successful close on August 13th. The Deputy Director-General of the Hanban Professor Wang Yongli and former Executive Vice-President of Xiamen University, Professor Pan Shimo, spoke at the closing ceremony, which was chaired by the Dean of Xiamen University Overseas Education College, Professor Zheng Tongtao.
In his address, Professor Pan Shimo expressed his great appreciation of the workshop, commenting that it was a high-level event, with the participants including experts in different fields and Directors from the five continents. He also expressed his gratitude to the Hanban, the Directors, the experts and the staff and volunteers. In his address, Professor Wang Yongli said "The Confucius Institutes are our common concern, and that in their future development, we will be taking co-operation to a global level." In speaking of the textbooks used, he said that the Hanban had done everything it could to resolve the questions concerning textbook, but that, at the same time, the Confucius Institutes were encouraged to develop their own textbooks to reflect their own needs. On the question of teaching staff, he said that there were to be major changes in the training to reflect the differences in environments, educational approaches, and countries. In addition, he said that the Confucius Institutes would shift their focus to primary and middle schools and that the individual Confucius Institutes should take the lead in building strong relations with their local primary and middle schools.
Confucius Institutes are examples of Sino-foreign co-operation in education. Each Confucius Institute has two Directors, one being the Local Director appointed by the local university, the other the Chinese Director designated by the Chinese university. This important workshop was held for the Local Directors. Since 2004, the Hanban has established over 310 Confucius Institutes and 340 Confucius Classrooms around the world. In the years since, the Confucius Institutes have become a centre for citizens of those countries to learn the Chinese language and about Chinese culture. They provide a platform for the cross-exchanges of Chinese and foreign cultures, and a bridge for friendly co-operation between Chinese and foreign peoples, and the Confucius Institutes have been welcomed warmly by the people in their respective countries.

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