Institute 'to boost China links'
Plans for a new University of Ulster initiative forging stronger ties between China and Northern Ireland will boost cultural and trade links, a senior diplomat has said.
The Chinese Consul General for Northern Ireland and Scotland Li Ruiyou was welcoming the setting up of the Confucius Institute of Northern Ireland at the University of Ulster.
It will be part of a network of 322 institutes in more than 50 countries which promote and teach Chinese language and culture and facilitate cultural exchanges aimed at fostering trade links with China.
The Chinese official told MLAs, members of the Chinese community, business people and academics at a dinner at Stormont to mark China National Day, that he was encouraged by the new initiative.
"This is a milestone in education and cultural exchanges between China and Northern Ireland," he said.
"The establishment of the Confucius Institute at Ulster will not only expand the learning and teaching of Chinese language and culture but it will help the business people of Northern Ireland know more about China, so as to become better prepared and more competitive in China's market."
Earlier this month it was confirmed that Hanban, an offshoot of the Chinese ministry of education, had sanctioned the setting up of Northern Ireland's only Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster.
With headquarters at the Coleraine campus and offices on its Belfast city centre campus, the Confucius Institute for Northern Ireland at the University of Ulster (CINIU) is a collaboration with Zhejiang University of Media and Communications in south-eastern China.
CINIU will not be solely focussed on the teaching of Mandarin Chinese.
Like other Confucius Institutes, the Northern Ireland project will encourage private and public sector companies and organisations wishing to trade and engage with China to study not only the language but the business and administrative culture, its customs and practices to gain a competitive advantage.