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Remarks of H.E. Zhang Yiming at the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Confucius Institute in UNAM

20 July 2018

Respectable Prof. Lazarus Hangula, Vice Chancellor of UNAM,

Prof. Kenneth Matengu, Pro-Vice Chancellor of UNAM and Director of Confucius Institute in UNAM,

Prof. Deng Jun, President of China University of Geosciences,

Professors, lecturers and students,

Members of the Media Fraternity,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

Today, I am delighted to attend the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Confucius Institute in UNAM. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations on this great occasion.

Since its establishment in 2013, with the strong support of UNAM and China University of Geosciences, Confucius Institute has made marvelous achievements and great progress. At present, it has 10 teaching spots, realizing full coverage of university, secondary and primary school. It has trained nearly 2800 people and Chinese language has become a credit course in UNAM now. In addition to language teaching, Confucius Institute has also held Chinese Bridge-Chinese Proficiency Competitions both in college and secondary school level, organized summer camp to China, introduced HSK test and established the first radio to introduce China named "Hello, China!". It has become the platform to learn Chinese, a name card to display Chinese culture and the bridge of China-Namibia cultural exchanges.

China is an ancient civilization with a long history of 5,000 years. With the robust economy growth and the increasingly extensive international exchanges, the demand for learning Chinese has increased dramatically and thus emerged "Mandarin Fever" in some countries. Confucius Institute was established against that background. Nowadays, there are more than 500 Confucius Institutes and over 1000 Confucius classrooms in the world. There are 54 Confucius Institutes and 30 Confucius classrooms among 41 African countries. And it has so far trained a total number of over 1.4 million students, making Africa the most efficient area in the Institute global management.

Dear students, it is the peoples’ relations that solidify countries’ relations, and people’s relations shall be enhanced by hearts’ contacts. Language and culture can narrow the distance and remove misunderstanding between peoples. For instance, a stranger greeting me with a "你好" would make me feel Namibian friends' goodwill and friendship to China. As comprehensive strategic cooperative partners, China-Namibia friendship is not only embodied in high-level exchanges and political mutual trust, but also is rooted in the deep feelings among our two peoples. H.E. President Xi Jinping advocated to build a Community with shared future for mankind. China and Namibia are true friends, sincere partners and close brothers, we should take the language as the link and the culture as the bridge to build the community with shared future for our two countries.

As a goodwill messenger of culture and friendship, Confucius Institute always uphold the concept of "communication, exchange, and win-win cooperation", based on the actual conditions in Namibia, and has made valuable contribution to language training of UNAM and Namibia as a whole. More importantly, it has provided a platform for people-to-people exchanges, therefore strongly promoting the building of the community with shared future for China and Namibia. At the National Day reception held by the Embassy last year, the teachers and students of Confucius Institute in Chinese traditional costumes sang in unison the national anthems of the two countries, which deeply impressed and moved me.

As the saying goes, there will always be further progress. Compared to the Institute development of the whole Africa, especially against the new era of our comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, I believe there is still some potential for the UNAM Confucius Institute. As far as I know, some Chinese companies in Namibia suffer a shortage of persons who know Chinese language. There is no doubt that the ones who have learned Chinese will become the employer's prior choice.

I hope that the Confucius Institute would expand its operations further, and if conditions allow, set up more teaching locations to covering more Namibian friends who want to learn Chinese. I hope that more Namibian people will seize the precious opportunity to learn Chinese well, apply it in practice and make their own contributions to Harambee Prosperity Plan.

At last, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all the teachers and volunteers of the Confucius Institute for their unremitting endeavor and to the Namibian Government and the UNAM for your precious support to the Confucius Institute. Besides, I hope Confucius Institute could continue to work hard and made more progress in the new era!

I believe, with our joint efforts, the hearts of our two peoples will be much closer, the bilateral ties will be even stronger and the two countries will enjoy brighter future.

Thank you!

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