RIGA, April 25 (Xinhua) -- When the 14th "Chinese Bridge" language proficiency competition in Latvia was held in the University of Latvia on Tuesday, the contest has drawn hails from various sides.
Professor Janis Ikstens, vice rector of the University of Latvia and the board director of Confucius Institute at the University of Latvia, said that the "Chinese Bridge" has provided a perfect channel to the Chinese language learners in Latvia.
It has been playing a positive role in promoting the Latvia-China culture exchanges and friendly bilateral relation, said Ikstens.
Huang Yong, Chinese ambassador to Latvia, focused his address on the theme "Dreams Enlighten the Future", noting that the "Chinese Bridge" competition has been held in Latvia for 14 consecutive years, not only improving the Latvian learners' proficiency in Chinese and making them appreciate the charm of Chinese culture, but also helping them fulfill their dream to study in China, as they have been striving to broaden their horizon and achieve excellence.
He thanked the Latvian government and the University of Latvia for their dedication to Chinese education and voiced hope that more Latvian citizens, especially young people, would deepen their understanding of Chinese culture through learning the language.
The ambassador also encouraged the contestants and wished them good luck in the competition.
Professor Peteris Pildegovics and Professor Shang Quanyu, Latvian and Chinese directors of the Confucius Institute at the University of Latvia, stressed three highlights of the contest.
The first was the number of contestants, which has grown to its all-time high, an indication of the popularity of the Chinese language and culture in Latvia.
The second highlight was the age of the contestants which ranged from seven to 70 years old, an indication of the language's charm among young and older people. The third one was the high percentage of children and teenagers among the contestants, suggesting the growing popularity of Chinese among youngsters.
A total of 70 contestants participated in the competition this year, including 25 in the adult and university student's group and 45 in the elementary and secondary school student's group.
The competition took place in four parts: self-introduction, themed public speaking, Q&A about Chinese knowledge and a talent show. Their passionate speeches on the theme "Dreams Enlighten the Future" and the extraordinary artistic abilities and skills demonstrated in the talent show deeply impressed both the judges and the audience.
Some of the winners will travel to China to represent Latvia at the "Chinese Bridge" final competition.
The language proficiency competition will last till Wednesday.