In a spectacle of colour and dance, London South Bank University (LSBU) welcomed Chinese Vice-Premier Madame Liu Yandong on Sunday 20 September to open the new base for the Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine (CITCM).
Madame Liu – a senior figure in one of the most powerful economies in the world – has oversight of health, education and sports in the government of the People’s Republic of China. She is an advocate of universities playing a greater role in carrying civilization forward and international collaboration.
The Confucius Institute at LSBU is the world's first Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is part of a global network of institutes committed to providing Chinese language and cultural teaching resources to foreign Chinese learners and to contribute to the development of multiculturalism. The occasion also marked the recent upgrading of LSBU’s CITCM as a Model Confucius Institute, the first in the UK to be given this prestigious status.
Children from Highgate Primary School, Goldsmiths Confucius Institute for Dance and Performance, and St Joseph’s College welcomed Madame Liu with performances including traditional Chinese dance and storytelling. Each school is part of the CITCM’s network of 46 institutions across London that run Chinese culture workshops. Also joining the welcome party were LSBU’s current Chinese students from partner universities across China. The Vice-Premier’s arrival was marked by a display of Chinese ceremonial drumming before she was taken on a tour of the new Caxton House facility, which includes teaching space and a photographic exhibition of the CITCM’s work since it was opened at LSBU in 2008.
Madame Liu cut the ribbon to officially open the newly renovated building, and also generously gifted the university with 100 opportunities for its students to travel to China as part of their studies.
LSBU Vice-Chancellor Professor David Phoenix said: “I have worked with colleagues in China for a number of years and believe there are great benefits for London South Bank University, and the rest of the UK economy, from partnerships between China and the UK.
“China's economy is one of the largest in the world and many businesses will be working with Chinese organisations in the future. Having a Confucius Institute associated with the University provides opportunities for our staff and students to gain further insight and experience of China.
“I believe the opening of this building is a sign of the Confucius Institute’s success, and a symbol of London South Bank University’s commitment to sharing Chinese culture and tradition.”
Partnered with two Chinese universities, Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine and Harbin Normal University, the CITCM receives Chinese teachers to the UK to support teaching and learning of Chinese culture and language. It also hosts visiting Chinese doctors to teach at LSBU and the local community. In 2014 LSBU's Confucius Institute was the first in the UK to achieve model institute status from Hanban - a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education which coordinates the CI programme.
Also in attendance at the event were MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark Neil Coyle, Leader of Southwark Council Peter John, and Mark Hendricks MP who is Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary China Group. Guests from China included Minister of Education Professor Yuan Guiren, Chinese Ambassador Mr Liu Xiaoming, and the Chief Executive of Hanban, Madame Xu Lin.