Sun, May 27, 2012
China > China & World

Confucius Institutes welcome US decision

2012-05-27 03:58:40 GMT2012-05-27 11:58:40(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Confucius Institute Headquarters on Saturday welcomed a decision made by the US government to allow all Confucius Institutes in the country to continue with their courses.

Xu Lin, head of Confucius Institute Headquarters, or Hanban, said the new directive showed the US government's official recognition of the Confucius Institutes.

"We welcome the quick move of the US Department of State to fix the mistake," Xu said.

"There has been an irreversible trend of Chinese language learning in the United States," Xu said, calling for enhanced mutual exchanges in culture.

The US Department of State on May 17 issued a guidance directive to universities which sponsor Confucius Institutes, saying that any academics at university-based institutes who are teaching at the elementary-and secondary-school levels are violating the terms of their visas and must leave at the end of the current school term in June. It also asked the Confucius Institutes to obtain separate US accreditation.

The controversial move soon sparked widespread criticism both in China and the United States. An official with Hanban on Thursday said the headquarters regrets the US directive which "may harm the Sino-US friendship".

On Friday the Department of State reassured the US universities in collaboration with Confucius Institutes that it will help fix the visa mess-up for Chinese language teachers in need and make sure nobody is required to leave the country.

Its new directive also said the Confucius Institutes do not need to obtain separate US accreditation.

"When conducting university or college-based activities with Confucius Institutes, a college or university's sponsors accreditation is sufficient to comply with the regulations," it said.

According to Xu, presidents of many American universities, and teachers and students in the country voiced strong opposition to the initial directive released on May 17.

Xu said the two countries should solve the problems on the basis of mutual respect and exchanges.

Confucius Institutes around the world are nonprofit public institutions jointly established by the Confucius Institute Headquarters, and Chinese colleges and high schools with foreign educational institutions, with the aim to teach the Chinese language and promote cultural exchanges overseas.

The United States currently has the largest number of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in the world, with 81 institutes and 299 classrooms in 48 states.

Many US universities have sponsored such institutes and classrooms on their campuses with nearly 160,000 registered learners.

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