It’s not surprising the Confucius Institute is making great headway overseas. An emblem of China’s soft power expansion plans, I reckon they are designed to produce far greater amounts of cultural capital than anything else they can do via the media.
Confucianism is the perfect foil for China’s updated authoritarian capitalism and whilst I may sound a tad critical of this, I also firmly believe Confucianism can be good for most societies. Its values are sound, and can be beneficial to anyone willing to give it a chance (though we should not forget that the early communists took great pains to remove its influence on the Chinese). More importantly, what is clear from this piece of news is that China is another step closer to being that benevolent picture it is trying to paint to illuminate its ascension.
Quotable Quotes – “New Zealand now hosts nearly 35,000 Chinese students, more than from any other country.”
Confucius Institute to bridge for cultural exchanges between China, New Zealand
By Ming Jinwei, Huang Xingwei
Source – Xinhua News Agency, 2 November 2009
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Sunday that he hopes a newly opened Confucius Institute at Canterbury University will serve as a bridge for cultural exchanges between China and New Zealand.
Before the new Confucius Institute was opened Sunday, China had set up the first institute in New Zealand in 2007 in Oakland, the country’s largest city.
New Zealand now hosts nearly 35,000 Chinese students, more than from any other country.
Li arrived in Christchurch, the largest city of New Zealand’s South Island, earlier Sunday, starting a three-day official visit to the Pacific island nation.
China and New Zealand have enjoyed rapid development in bilateral relations in the past few years. The two countries have economies that are complimentary to each other’s as China is strong in manufacturing while New Zealand is famous for its agricultural and dairy exports.
New Zealand was the first developed country to recognize China as a market economy. It was also the first developed country to sign and implement a free trade agreement with China.
Besides trade, China and New Zealand have also enjoyed steady growth in cultural and educational relations.
Li, in his speech at the university, quoted Confucius to describe the friendly relations between the two countries.
“Isn’t it a pleasant thing to have friends to visit from afar?” he asked in a rhetorical way while thanking his hosts for their hospitality.
He explained that the pleasure was not only on the part of the New Zealand people as hosts, but also on the Chinese delegation as well-tendered guests.
Li also quoted Confucius for another time to stress the importance of learning and education.
To highlight the partnership between China and New Zealand, Li said: “If you are virtuous, you will not be lonely and you will always have friends”, another direct refrain collected in the Analects of Confucius.
The vice premier said China and New Zealand would be intimate partners and good friends as long as they stick to their moral principles and keep their word when conducting exchanges and cooperation.
He added that the already existing partnership between the two countries would be further strengthened through more cultural exchanges such as the establishment of Confucius Institutes.
At the end of his speech, Li expressed hope for long-lasting friendship between China and New Zealand and confidence in Canterbury University’s playing an important role in developing the friendship.
Rod Carr, vice chancellor of Canterbury University, said the new institute would help promote mutual understanding between the two peoples.
He said it was a “special honor” both for the city of Christchurch and the university to be selected as the site for New Zealand’s second Confucius Institute.
Canterbury University, established in 1873, has the second longest history among higher education institutions in New Zealand.
Ernest Rutherford, the Nobel laureate for chemistry in 1908 and regarded as New Zealand’s father of science, was once a student at the university.
More than 400 Chinese students are attending Canterbury University.
Filed under: Confucius, International Relations, New Zealand, xinhua