Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Confucius Institute contributing to strengthening of Pak-China relations

ZHANG XIAPING Director Confucious Institute University of Karachi And Ex Dean Foreigner Language Talks to Centreline and DNA

 by MISS ZEERAK FATIMA

  1. Q) Tell us a little about yourself
  2. A) My name is Zhang Xiaoping. Now, I am the Chinese Director of Confucius Institute at University of Karachi. Before I worked here, I was the Dean of foreign languages at another university for some years, but I like working with different people and that is why I am here.
  3. This is not the first time I have come to Pakistan;I came here last July as a visitor with a delegation. Since that time, I fell in love with this country and its people. My university wanted to send me here as the director but due to many reasons I could not make it. I feel comfortable and home with the people here. The set up here is excellent; the people working with me are friendly and creative. It is an amazing place.
  1. Q) Can you tell me about Confucius Institute and its functions?
  2. A) Our institute was established in 2013. So, it was been running for 6 years. The mission of our institute is to facilitate the learning of Chinese language for all Pakistanis who want to learn the language, to promote the cultural and educational exchange between China and Pakistan and to strengthen the relationship of both the countries. Our objective is to provide all the support to the people who want to learn the Chinese language. Now, we are the largest institute in Pakistan in terms of the size of enrollment, we have about 6000 students every year who are learning Chinese. I feel the support from different universities and organizations. We also provide courses for Chinese companies and localPakistani companies like Habib Bank or ICPC for staff training. We have the biggest group of teachers with around 31 Chinese teachers and 2 local teachers. For the first time, this year we have local teachers because the promotion of Chinese language depends on the local teachers. Our plan is to hire local teachers to work with the Chinese teachers and make the bond stronger than before.

  1. Q) Apart from the goals and aims of the institute, you must have aims and goals of your own. What are those?
  2. A) A lot of goals. First, I want to learn to cook some Pakistani food, I love it. I enjoy different foods in Pakistan, we visited different restaurants and they all have great food. I love Pakistani food more than Chinese food in Karachi. Hopefully I will learn a few dishes. Secondly, I want to learn Urdu. I picked up a few simple phrases like “As-Salam-u-Alaikum” and “Mera naam Zhang Xiaoping hai”. As you know we have two local teachers, so we can learn Urdu from them. Every week I ask the two local teachers to teach the Chinese teachers twice, they enjoy it. More importantly, I want to improve our institute in quantity and quality. So, the next goal for myself and for my institute is to establish a Chinese department, in this way we can have joint programs with our partner university in China. Our plan is to provide a joint degree program, 1+2+1, like one year of University here, two years in China and then one year back in Pakistan. After graduation, they can continue to work in China and then come back and work as local teachers. They can be teachers of Chinese Language in different educational institutes like schools, colleges etc. as we know that there is high demand of learning Chinese in all the age groups.

 

 

  1. Q) What impact do you think Confucius Institute has on the society of both the countries?
  2. A) I think it is beneficial for both the countries. China is developing very fast but people in the world do not have very good understanding of China, so we need to make the people see the real China. That is why Confucius Institute has sent us to different countries where we provide Chinese language courses and culture courses for students who are interested in learning. From the Pakistani perspective, we can provide Chinese language courses for students who are willing to learn. Due to the advancement of the CPEC, more and more Chinese companies whohave their branches or want to start a company will need many workers who know Chinese, English as well as Urdu. Last month, there was an interview for a project and more than 30 students were interviewed from the Confucius Institute and they planned to hire 10 of them. There are 5,000 Chinese staff members in Pakistan and 10,000 Pakistani staff. So, we need a lot of people who know Chinese, English and Urdu.

 

  1. Q) You mentioned about the cultural courses. Do you think Confucius Institute has played an important role in the promotion of cultural diversity?
  2. A) Definitely! Cultural Activity is an important part of Confucius Institute. We provide different cultural courses like calligraphy, tea culture, dances, engraving, drawing etc. On the other hand, we organize many cultural events, we have activities such as National Day and Spring Festival, we also have art performances where we invite students and the teaching staff of Confucius Institute. They prepare some performances. We have done many culture caravans inn different universities and we are also planning to do one at Mehran University. So, I want to make it grand, a serious China-Pakistan cultural caravan. We would also like to host one in Newports Institute. In the next semester, we can plan something, and it can take place at Newports Institute.

 

  1. Q) What does Confucius Institute hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
  2. A) In the next 5 years, we want to expand the size and the quality as we want to provide quality education. Secondly, an established Chinese department. We are also looking forward to providing vocational training, that means in different universities we would like to provide some vocational training according to the chosen majors of the students. This way, the student can learn the language and use it for himself too.

 

  1. Q) There are many ongoing projects in Pakistan by China. How do you think Confucius Institute contributes to it?
  2. A) Actually, we can contribute a lot. At present the most important ongoing project is the CPEC. A lot of investment and a lot of companies have come to Pakistan for this project. We also get to hear about the negative side of CPEC like the living standards of Pakistanis are not improving even after the development of CPEC. So, we need to do something to help. Firstly,we need to make everyone understand the actual idea of CPEC. Maybe from our side we can add more programs to help the people understand the importance of the program and can ask our students to be a part of it as you better understand any company or work and its benefit, directly or indirectly, when you work in it. So, our job is to help Pakistani students better prepare for jobs and offices in Chinese companies.

 

  1. Q) Do you think Newports Institute is helping Confucius Institute achieve its goals?
  2. A) Definitely. We have teachers of different kind. I think no matter the level of uni or college, for us it is the same. Whenever you want to learn the Chinese language, we provide the support as much as we can. From your side, the Institute, the Board of Directors and Madam Huma are very cooperative and supportive. In the long run, we can make this program better. Today, I contacted a friend of mine in China and she is interested in working with your institute, I even sent her the webpage of your institute. In November, we will have an education fair and 20 different universities will come here with scholarships from Chinese universities and for that your university is invited as well. I want every university to accept at least 2 students and in that way we can send 40 students to China for their education.

 

  1. Q) Q) What are your thoughts about 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China?
  2. A) For the 70th Anniversary, all Chinese are proud of the great progress China has made in economy and social life in the last 70 years, especially in the last 40 years with the reform and open-up. China and Pakistan have set up a model for friendly cooperation between countries with different systems and culture. With the development of CPEC, the people to people contact between China and Pakistan is increasing and Confucius Institute at University of Karachi is playing an important role in promoting cultural and educational exchanges between China and Pakistan. The Chinese learners in Pakistan benefit not only from the language and culture courses but also from recommendation for scholarship and job opportunities.