By Zhang Yongxing
SUVA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Confucius Institute at the University of the South Pacific (CI-USP), headquartered in the Fijian capital of Suva has been well received for its great success over the past five years and for providing a platform for promoting friendship and cooperation between China and Fiji, and the Pacific region.
The CI-USP, which became fully operational in 2012, was established between the University of the South Pacific (USP) and Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT).
Currently, it comprises 15 staff members and in March 2014, due to the high demand for Chinese language learning and teaching in the western part of Fiji, CI-USP opened a Teaching Point at USP's Lautoka Campus. In 2015 a Confucius Classroom soon followed in the Emalus Campus in Vanuatu, and another Confucius Classroom opened in the Cook Islands Campus.
The successes of the Confucius Institute at USP have been recognised and the institute was rewarded as the Model CI Project by the Confucius Institute Headquarters in 2016.
The award enables USP to make a substantial investment in improved learning and teaching facilities for the Confucius Institute at USP.
The extension of the Model Confucius Institute at USP will facilitate Chinese language learning and teaching and culture promotion across all the USP campuses, as it will have state-of-the-art technology that will complement the online facilities available at USP.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the extension of the Model Confucius Institute at USP on Friday, Fijian President Jioji Konousi Konrote praised the CI-USP for providing a platform for building friendship and cooperation between China and Fiji, and the Pacific region.
"The Confucius Institute is providing a platform for building friendship and cooperation between China and Fiji, and the Pacific region. We hope that this will further pave the way for deeper cooperation based on mutual trust, which is necessary for the delivery of the social and economic benefits that we all desire," Konrote said.
He said that the learning and teaching of the Chinese language and culture is crucial and should be seen as one of the main tools for the development of the relationship between Fiji and China.
"Effective communication is the key to increasing our understanding of each other. Learning each other's languages will lead to a better appreciation of each other's cultures and traditions," he said. "The fact that the institute has brought the opportunity to learn right to our doorstep is very encouraging. I urge young and willing students not to miss this opportunity."
From a Fiji perspective, the president continued, it is part of their ultimate aim to create a knowledge-based society where their people could learn more about the world, about the global community and about different nations and their respective peoples, cultures and traditions. And he believed that all the other Pacific Island countries that have part of USP desire for the same outcomes.
He believed that the groundbreaking ceremony not only marks the beginning of the renovation and extension of the Model CI-USP building, but it also extends the opportunity for improved relations between China and their Pacific Island countries.
For his part, Rajesh Chandra, vice-chancellor and president of USP, expressed his satisfaction with the development of the CI-USP.
The Confucius Institute at USP provides a unique avenue to introduce Chinese language and culture to the general public and to carry out China-related activities within USP, he said, adding that it not only engages in extending development and cooperation in education but also engages in extending the friendly cooperation in Sino-Pacific cultural communication, economics and technology communication, information communication, among others.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Zhang Ping said that the groundbreaking ceremony marks an important milestone and a new beginning in the course of development of the Confucius Institute. It is a testament of the remarkable accomplishments that CI-USP has achieved over the past years. The new classroom and office building will provide a much bigger space and better work environment for students and teachers. It will bring the development of the Confucius Institute to a new level.
On behalf of BUPT President Qiao Jianyong, Ren Chunxia, director of BUPT international office, said that as an important platform and window of Chinese teaching, cultural exchange and understanding of China for people of Fiji and the South Pacific Islands, CI-USP will play a more significant role in increasing the understanding and friendship between Chinese people and peoples from the South Pacific Island countries.
"Today's groundbreaking ceremony means so much for CI-USP. It signifies that CI-USP has gone through five years of early stage and is stepping forward to a new development stage," she said. "CI-USP will step to a new high for Chinese teaching and cultural exchange, and make greater contribution to the friendly relationship between BUPT and USP."