A new centre dedicated to promoting Chinese language and culture has been launched at Newcastle University with a series of events.
The first Confucius Institute in the North East will help to build closer academic, cultural and social ties between the region and China.
The new institute, which will be based in the Old Library Building at the heart of the Newcastle University campus, is a joint venture between Newcastle and Xiamen University.
Representatives from Xiamen visited Newcastle to launch the centre on Saturday, 18 May, and to sign a memorandum of understanding creating a broad strategic partnership between the two institutions.
A series of events celebrating Chinese culture were held around the city to mark the opening of the new institute. Outdoor Tai Chi took place at Grey's Monument on Wednesday 15 May, while Newcastle Central Library put the spotlight on books about the country from Thursday 16 May.
Chinese films played throughout Friday 17 May on a big screen at Haymarket. On Saturday, 18 May there was a Chinese dragon dance at Haymarket and Chinese Opera Face Painting took place in the Grainger Market. Artist Chun Chao made masks inspired by the Painted Faces exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery.
Confucius Institutes are worldwide non-profit public institutions designed by the Chinese government to promote Chinese language and culture through teaching programmes and cultural exchanges. They are overseen by the Office of Chinese Language Council International, known as Hanban.
Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs at Newcastle University said: “The new Confucius Institute will be a wonderful addition to our University and will be a focus for Chinese language and culture regionally and nationally.
“It will strengthen the ties between Newcastle and Xiamen universities and links between our region and China.
“Our students will benefit as the centre will enhance the way we teach Chinese, and schools and businesses will benefit as we share our expertise to help to create a better understanding of one of the world’s great cultures.”
Xiamen University, based in Fujian province in south east China, is one of the country’s leading universities. Its President is Professor Chongshi Zhu, who has visited Newcastle several times.
The new institute will open to students and members of the public from around the region later this year. There are currently around 2,000 Chinese students studying at Newcastle University.
published on: 10 May 2013