NCLC2011

Remarks by China’s State Councilor Liu Yandong at the 2011 National Chinese Language Conference

San Francisco, CA | April 14, 2011

(Applause) It’s such a lively scene today. When I visited the United States in April 2009, the College Board and Asia Society hosted a grand dinner for the Chinese delegation, the warm and friendly atmosphere and the lively interaction of which I still vividly remember today. Just now my old friends, President Gaston Caperton and President Vishakha Desai, told me that this conference was originally planned for 900 participants; however, the actual number of delegates registered for participation is more than 1,500. Some of you drove more than ten hours to get here. I’m deeply touched by your enthusiasm and active participation.

Even more touching to me is a letter I received not long ago from a 12th-grade student from Oregon written in neat Chinese. In the letter he wrote, “I think Chinese language is very interesting as it’s important for the future of the world. I hope I can go to China sometime to visit the world-famous Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an.” (Applause) There is another group of lovely kids from this state who hear lots of things about China and want to share their impression of China with me. (Presentation of drawings by the kids) This is what they think of China. In my view, learning Chinese language evokes the kids’ heartfelt love for China – a place thousand of miles away, far across the ocean – which indicates the power of language and cultural exchange. Although we have a tight schedule for this visit, I’ve decided to squeeze some time to visit the kids in Oregon. (Applause)

I think these two letters confirm the gratifying results of Chinese education in the U.S. For a long time, the College Board, led by President Gaston Caperton, and the Asia Society, led by President Vishakha Desai, have been promoting social exchanges between these two countries with wisdom and vision. By starting with language teaching to promote educational and cultural exchanges between the two countries, they’ve become leaders in strengthening the Sino-American relationship. Since it began in 2008, the National Chinese Language Conference’s growing influence has played an important role in promoting Chinese teaching in the U.S.

All delegates present have been wholly dedicated to Chinese education and cultural exchange. Each of these individuals is like a bridge of communication and friendship between China and the U.S. The federal government, state governments, and schools are increasing emphasis on Chinese language teaching and issuing strong support for establishing Chinese language courses in primary and secondary schools. Recently, Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon and house speaker wrote me a letter to announce that Oregon has passed a state bill for conducting Chinese language classes in its public schools. To date, more than 5,000 students in over 50 schools have started learning Chinese. (Applause) I also congratulate them. For Chinese education in the U.S. to have such a good situation today and the Sino-American friendship to have such a good foundation in the private sector, your contribution cannot be denied. I pay great respect to you and through you to all those friends engaged in Chinese teaching in the U.S. (Applause)

Ladies and gentlemen, in this era, our world has become a global village where scientific and technological progress brings distant lands closer together. Safeguarding the common interests of mankind and coping with common challenges require us all to work together, regardless of where we live. Language is the first tool of human communication. The desire of all people to learn foreign languages and enhance understanding has never been as strong as it is today. The Chinese government actively promotes and encourages people, particularly the youth, to learn foreign languages. Over sixty kinds of foreign languages are now available in Chinese institutions of higher education and most primary schools begin teaching English in the third grade. Over 300 million Chinese are learning English now and thus playing an important role in their understanding of the outside world and promoting friendship with people of foreign countries. With the growing exchanges between China and the world, a sort of Chinese language fever has also reached a global scale. At this point, 98 countries and regions have set up Confucius Institutes and Confucius classrooms comprising a total of around 400,000 students. In the United States, more than 1,000 universities have set up Chinese language departments, more than 4,000 primary and secondary schools offer Chinese courses and increaslingly more states arrange Confucius classrooms within primary and secondary schools. Chinese language teaching is flourishing and highlights the positive development of bilateral relations.

Sino-American language exchange not only enjoys broad support by civil society, but is also highly valued by the heads of state of these two countries. During President Hu Jintao’s U.S. visit in January, he paid a special visit to the Chicago Confucius Institute of Walter Payton College Prep where he expressed his great appreciation for Chinese education in the U.S. In fact, President Hu initiated the Chinese Bridge program encouraging 100,000 foreigners to do research in China. Meanwhile, President Obama has come up with the 100,000 Strong Initiative, which seeks to increase the number of Americans studying in China to 100,000. Both programs will greatly stimulate the language and cultural exchanges between these two countries. I would also like to add that 180 million Chinese students have studied abroad since China’s reform and opening up three decades ago, of which 60 million studied in the U.S. Currently, 130,000 Chinese students are studying in the U.S., whereas 20,000 American students are studying abroad in China. (Applause)

Ladies and gentlemen, language is the carrier of culture. The famous American poet Walt Whitman once said that language is intertwined with love and hate, joy and suffering, needs and satisfaction of the common people. Learning Chinese not only enables one to obtain a communication tool, but more importantly to enjoy the unique charm of Chinese culture. Chinese written script is the world’s only living pictograph. For example, the Chinese word for “harmony” hexie – consists of two characters: “he” and “xie.” The first character expresses food for all and the second expresses a voice for all. Studies indicate that the ancient Chinese focused on everyday livelihoods and democratic values when creating the characters for their written script. Through the course of China’s long history, “he” has enhanced in meaning and has evolved into a core concept of Chinese traditional culture. “He” (harmony)consists of four branches: first, overall harmony is the most valuable principle; second, all nations shall live in perfect harmony; third, harmony occurs between man and nature; and fourth, harmony exists without uniformity. These ideas are firmly integrated in Chinese heritage. They shape the nation’s drive for harmony and peace-loving nature and these ideas have guided Chinese society’s interaction with foreign nations throughout China’s history. The concept of “he” permeates China’s current policy of building a harmonious society internally and adhering to peace and development externally. “He” advocates diverse civilizations to learn from one another through dialogue and exchange, to live in harmony through seeking common ground while putting aside differences, and to reach the ideal situation of “finding your beauty and that of others; sharing the beauty and achieve unity.” Therefore, I think by understanding the meaning of “he,” we can better understand the essence of Chinese traditional culture as well as contemporary China’s state of mind in longing for peaceful development. Many commonly used words in the development of Sino–U.S. bilateral relations such as “be in the same boat,” “tolerance and mutual trust,” “partnership,” “mutual respect,” and “mutual benefit” highlight the eminence of “he.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the famous “ping pong diplomacy” and Dr. Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China, which together opened the door to a new era of Sino-American relations. Now, four decades later, the development of Sino–American relations is well beyond people’s expectations. This cross-cultural relationship has become one of the world’s most dynamic and important bilateral bonds, benefiting a quarter of the world’s population – 1.6 billion people. The two countries have established 36 pairs of friendship provinces and states, as well as 160 pairs of friendship cities. Annual cross-border travel has reached over 3 million tourists. The U.S. is China’s second largest export market. A lot of investment in China has brought advanced technology and management experience to China. 600,000 Chinese students have studied in the U.S. and made advancements in their studies. The U.S. has also benefited a great deal from China’s rapid development. China is the fastest-growing major export destination for the U.S. for nine consecutive years. Four million U.S. jobs are closely related to Sino–American trade. The largest contribution to the global profits of many U.S. companies come from China. Even during the two years of most serious international financial crisis, more than 70 percent of America’s companies made profits in China. Currently that number is at 85 percent. It is rare and commendable that two countries at such different stages of development have such a great blend of interest and interdependence that benefit the whole world.

With the deepening of economic globalization, China and the U.S. have more extensive common interests and shoulder more important mutual responsibilities. Sino–American coordination and cooperation has become an indispensable link in solving many regional hot issues and global problems. At this juncture, it is the common aspiration of both sides to build a more stable, lasting and dynamic Sino–American partnership.

During his successful visit to the U.S. in January, President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama reached the important consensus of building a mutual-respect, mutual-benefit and win-win China–U.S. partnership. The Sino–American Joint Statement issued by the two sides includes cultural exchanges in the strategic framework for Sino–U.S. relations as part of building partnerships for the first time. This is of great vision and practical relevance. An old Chinese saying goes, “The relationship between two countries is based on their mutual intimate engagement, the valuable understanding produced from this engagement and the sincerity of lifelong friendships.” Cultural exchange is person-to-person and heart-to-heart communication, which plays an irreplaceable role for people in achieving mutual respect, deepening understanding and enhancing friendship. It can develop warm and lasting sentiments between the people, help people rationally view differences and build a solid basis of trust.

The purpose of my visit this time at the invitation of the U.S. government is to implement the results of President Hu’s visit and to strengthen cultural exchanges. Two days ago, I co-chaired the second round of consultations on cultural exchanges with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Both sides vow to take concrete steps to promote cooperation in various fields, including education, science and technology, culture, women and youth, as well as to attract people from all sectors like government, education, businesses and communities to participate in these exchanges. In my visit to the U.S. in 2009, I brought the “three eight hundred” program on Chinese educational exchanges, which invited 800 primary and secondary school principals and 800 university and secondary school students to visit China, and provided 800 scholarships for the Confucius Institute. For the joint consultation with the U.S government this time, I have brought a new “three ten thousand” program. (Applause) That is, within four years, Chi.na will support 10,000 American students to study in China, implement the “Chinese Bridge” program that encourages 10,000 foreigners to do research in China and send 10,000 Chinese students to study in the U.S. for PhD degrees at the government’s expense. (Applause) We will also set up Sino–American women leaders exchange programs and youth leaders exchange programs, support high-level universities to establish cooperation platforms for teaching and research, and encourage mutual visits and exchanges between primary and secondary school and university teachers and principals. Over the next two years, we will hold Chinese cultural festivals in the U.S. to carry out arts, heritage, film, publishing and other exchanges.

In my view, the Sino–American friendship is rooted in the people and the broad participation of the people will make the tree of Sino–American friendship a well established and vigorously developing one. (Applause) Chinese education is an important part of cultural exchanges and the fundamental purpose for China to promote Chinese language teaching is to promote understanding, mutual trust and cooperation. We will extend more support to Chinese education in the U.S., train more local Chinese language teachers, send over more Chinese volunteers and promote exchanges between students, teachers and principals of primary and secondary schools and universities. At the same time, we will offer help on Chinese teaching materials and curriculum to U.S. schools of all kinds and levels based on the actual needs of the American education system.

Therefore, I sincerely hope all of you to carry on with the noble cause of enhancing understanding and friendship between the Chinese and American people, to continue to be explorers of local Chinese education, practitioners of cultural exchange and promoters of Sino–American friendship! (Applause)

Ladies and gentlemen, 27 years ago when I was the Vice-Chairman of the All-China Youth Federation, I led a Chinese youth delegation’s first visit to the U.S., during which we visited San Francisco. Back then, in many parts of the U.S., I only noticed Chinese characters in Chinese restaurants. Now, however, when I was walking the San Fran streets, many people greeted me with “Ni hao.” (Applause) In my view, it shows the power of language exchange that enables us to transcend national borders, span oceans and become closer with one another. I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the Asia Society, College Board, Assistant Secretary Of State Kurt M. Campbell, President Vishakha Desai,President Gaston Caperton, and all friends present tonight! Let’s work together and do our best to promote the friendship between our two countries and, in turn, promote the peace and prosperity of the world!

(Translation courtesy Project Pengyou. Full video here.)

2011年全美中文大会

刘延东致辞

(掌声)今天,在这样一个热烈的场面,2009年4月我访问美国的时候,大学理事会和亚洲协会为中国代表团举行了盛大的晚宴,当时那种热情友好,热烈互动的氛围至今我仍历历在目,刚才我的老朋友卡普顿主席丁文嘉会长告诉我,这次会议原计划是900人参加,但实际注册的代表将超过1500人。有些代表驱车十多小时赶来,大家踊跃参与的热情让我十分感动。

更让我感动的是,前不久我收到了俄勒冈州一位十二年级的学生用工整的汉语写的一封信。他在信中说,我觉得汉语很有意思,因为它对世界的未来很重要。我希望以后去中国,去西安看看世界上很有名的兵马俑。(掌声)这个州还有一群非常可爱的孩子从老师那里知道了很多中国的事情,特别想把他们对中国的印象告诉我。(图片演示)这就是他们心目中的中国。我想,学习汉语唤醒了孩子们对大洋对岸远隔万里的中国发自内心的热爱,这就是语言文化交流的力量。这次访问我们行程尽管很紧,但是我还是决定挤出时间去看看俄勒冈的孩子们。(掌声)

我想,这两封信从一个侧面印证了美国汉语教育的喜人成绩。长期以来,以卡普顿主席为首的大学理事会和丁文嘉会长领导的亚洲协会以智慧和远见推动两国民间往来,特别是从语言教学入手,促进两国教育和文化交流,成为中美人文交流的领跑者。全美汉语大会自2008年开始,影响日益扩大,为推动美国的汉语教学发挥了重要作用。

在座的各位代表满腔热情地来致力于汉语教育,参与文化交流,每个人都好比是一座沟通中美友谊的桥梁。联邦政府,各州政府,和学校越来越重视开展汉语教学,为中小学校开设汉语课程提供了有力的支持。最近,俄勒冈州约翰·基察伯州长和两院议长来信告我,该州参众两院通过了在全州公立学校开展汉语教学的法案,已有五十多个学校,五千多名学生开始学习汉语。(掌声。刘延东:我也向他们表示祝贺。)美国的汉语教育能有今天这样的好形势,中美友好在民间有这样的好基础,在座功不可没。我向大家,并通过你们向美国所有从事汉语教育的朋友们表示崇高的敬意!(掌声)

女士们、先生们,当今世界全球化使人类同住地球村,科技进步使人们天涯若比邻。维护人类的共同利益,应对共同的挑战,需要全球携手努力,而语言是人类沟通的第一工具。各国人民学习外语、增进了解的愿望从未像今天这样强烈。中国政府积极倡导和鼓励人民,特别是青少年学习外语。目前,高等学校开设的外语专业达六十多种,大多数小学是从三年级开始就开设了英语课,目前中国学习英语的人有三亿多人,对青少年了解外部世界,增进国与国之间,人与人之间的友谊起到了重要的作用。随着中国与世界的交往日益广泛,全球范围也出现了汉语热。目前,已经有98个国家和地区设立孔子学院和孔子课堂,注册学员达到四十万。美国有一千多所大学开设汉语专业,四千多所中小学开设汉语课程,越来越多的州开设了中小学的孔子课堂。汉语教学的蓬勃开展已经成了两国关系深入发展的一道亮丽的风景。

中美的语言交流不仅有广泛的民间基础,更得到两国元首的高度重视。今年一月,胡锦涛主席访美期间,专门参观了佩顿中学的芝加哥孔子学院,对美国的汉语教学给予了高度赞赏。胡主席亲自倡导汉语桥的万人来华研究项目,奥巴马总统提出十万留学中国计划都将极大带动两国语言文化交流的空前活跃。我在这里还要作一个介绍,就是中国改革开放三十年有180万人出国留学,其中有60万人是在美国留学,那么现在在美国留学的中国学生就有将近13万人,而美国在中国留学的学生有两万人。(掌声)

女士们、先生们,语言是文化的载体,美国著名诗人惠特曼说语言交织着普通人民的爱与恨,欢乐与痛苦,需求与满足。学习汉语不仅能够掌握交流的工具,更重要的是能够领略中华文化独特的魅力。汉语是世界上唯一活着的象形文字,比如“和谐”是由两个汉字组成的,一个是表达了人人有饭吃,一个是表达了人人皆可言。从中我们可以看到中国古人在文字的创造中就已经包含了朴素的注重民生和追求民主的渴望。在数千年的历史演进中,“和”的含义日渐丰富,成为中国传统文化的一个核心理念。“和”的内涵一是“以和为贵”,二是“协和万邦”,三是“天人合一”,四是“和而不同”。这些思想融入到中国人的血脉,塑造了崇尚和谐、爱好和平的民族品格,引领了中华民族与世界其它各民族的几千年的交往。现在,中国对内建设和谐社会,对外坚持和平发展,都渗透着“和”的理念。中国的“和”主张多样文明在对话交流中取长补短,在求同存异中和谐共生,达到了各美其美、美人之美而又美美与共的状态。所以我想,了解了“和”的内涵,就能更好地理解中国传统文化的精髓,能够更好地体会当代中国人渴望和平发展的心境。中美两国在发展双边关系中常用的许多词汇,比如“同舟共济”、“包容互信”、“伙伴关系”、“相互尊重”、“互利共赢”都闪烁着“和”的光芒。

女士们、先生们,今年是著名的“乒乓外交”和基辛格博士秘密访华,打开中美关系大门四十周年。这两个历史事件可以说开启了中美交往的新时代。如今,四十年过去了,中美关系的发展远远超出了人们的预期,成为当今世界最富有生机活力、最具有重要影响的双边关系之一,造福了占世界人口四分之一的中美两国十六亿的人民。两国建立了三十六对友好省州,一百六十对友好城市,每年跨境旅游达三百万人次。美国是中国第二大出口市场,大量的在华投资给中国带来了先进的科技和管理经验,有六十万中国人赴美留学并学有所成,美国也从中国的快速发展中受益匪浅。中国连续九年成为美国增长最快的主要出口地。美国四百万的中国岗位与中美贸易密切相关,许多美国企业全球利润的最大贡献来自中国。即使在国际金融危机最严重的两年,仍有超过百分之七十的美国在华企业盈利,目前已达到百分之八十五。两个发展阶段如此不同的大国拥有着利益交融、相互依存的关系是难能可贵的,全世界都因此而受益。

随着经济全球化的深入发展,中美两国拥有更加广泛的共同利益,肩负着更加重要的共同责任。中美的协调合作已成为解决诸多地区热点和全球性问题不可或缺的重要环节。在新的起点上,使中美关系更加稳固、持久、富有活力是双方的共同愿望。

今年一月,胡锦涛主席成功访美,与奥巴马总统达成了建设相互尊重,互利共赢,中美合作伙伴关系的重要共识。双方发表的中美联合声明首次把人文交流纳入中美关系的战略框架,作为建设合作伙伴关系的一部分,这是极具长远眼光和现实针对性的。中国的古语讲“国之交在于民相亲,人之相交贵在知心,以心相交方能成其久远”。人文交流是人与人、心与心的交流,对于人们相互尊重、加深理解、增进友谊具有不可替代的作用。它可以培养民众间亲切持久的感情,有助于人们理性地看待差异和分歧,来构建牢固的信任基础。

此次我是应美国政府的邀请访美,目的就是落实胡锦涛主席访美成果,加强人文等领域的交流。前两天,我与克林顿国务卿共同主持了第二轮人文交流的磋商,双方将采取切实的步骤来推动教育、科技、文化、妇女、青年等各个领域来开展合作,吸引政府、学校、企业、社区等各方面人员来参与交流。2009年,我访美的时候,带来了汉语教育交流的“三个八百”的项目,也就是要求八百名中小学校长和八百名大中学生访华,提供八百个孔子学院奖学金的名额。这一次我们和美国政府共同协商,我也带来了“三个一万”的项目,(掌声)也就是在四年中,中方将资助万名美国大学生来华留学,实施“汉语桥”万人来华研究项目,公派万人赴美攻读博士学位(掌声)。我们还将设立中美妇女领导者交流计划,青年领导者交流计划,支持高水平大学建立教学科研的合作平台,鼓励大中小学校的教师和校长互访和交流。今明两年,我们将在美国举办中国文化节,开展艺术、文物、影视、出版等领域交流。

我想,中美友好根基在于民众,人民的广泛参与将使中美友谊的大树根深叶茂。(掌声)汉语教育是人文交流的重要组成部分,中国推广汉语教学的根本目的是促进与外部世界的了解,互信与合作。我们将对美国的汉语教育给予更多的支持,要更多地培养美国本土的教师,派出更多的汉语志愿者,要开展学生,教师和相关大中小学校的校长的交流。同时,我们将根据美方的实际需要为美国各级各类学校提供汉语教材和课程等方面的帮助,来共同探讨适合美国国情的汉语教学方法。因此,我衷心地希望在座的各位继续致力于增进中美人民之间了解、友谊的崇高事业,做本土汉语教育的探索者,文化交流的实践者,中美友好的推动者!(掌声)

女士们、先生们,二十七年前,我作为中华全国青年联合会的副主席曾经率领一个中国青年代表团第一次访美的时候也来到了旧金山。当时在美国的很多地方,只能在中餐馆中才能看到汉字,但今天,当我站在美国的街头,已经有很多人用“你好”向我问候。(掌声)我想,正是因为语言的交流让我们能够超越国界,跨越重洋,彼此走得更近。衷心地感谢亚洲协会,大学理事会,感谢坎贝尔助理国务卿,丁文嘉会长,卡普顿主席,感谢今晚到场的所有朋友们!让我们为两国的友好,为世界的和平繁荣共同努力,做到最好!(掌声)(完)

NCLC2011