People-to-people and cultural exchanges have always played an indispensable role in promoting China-Russia friendship and have been proven to be an essential element in enhancing a strategic cooperative partnership, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said Wednesday.
As an important part of such exchanges, the ongoing "Year of Chinese Language" in Russia will surely help elevate the development of Sino-Russian strategic cooperative partnership, Xi said in a speech at the launch of the "Year of Chinese Language" together with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.
CHINA, RUSSIA GOOD NEIGHBORS, GOOD FRIENDS AND GOOD PARTNERS
Xi spoke highly of Sino-Russian bilateral friendship and cooperation in recent years, especially in the field of people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
"China and Russia have always been good neighbors, good friends and good partners," he said. Relations further strengthened after leaders of the two countries, proceeding from a long-term perspective, decided to establish the China-Russia strategic partnership of cooperation in April 1996.
"In recent years people-to-people and cultural exchanges have developed rapidly and played an important role in promoting this China-Russia strategic partnership of cooperation, which has evolved into a mature, stable and sound relationship," he said.
Xi cited the successful holding of reciprocal national theme years, the "Year of China in Russia" in 2007 and the "Year of Russia in China" in 2006, during which hundreds of activities were held, opening a new era for people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
The two events of "the Year of Russian Language" in China in 2008 and "the Year of Chinese Language" in Russia this year will surely help push the bilateral exchanges to a new level, he said.
CHINESE, RUSSIAN LANGUAGES IMPORTANT BRIDGES
The Chinese language is an important carrier of the Chinese civilization, Xi noted. With the media of Chinese language, many great Chinese writings in philosophy, literature and military thoughts were passed on and spread to the world, becoming a common treasure for the whole mankind.
The invention of paper making and moveable-type printing by Chinese helped further disseminate the Chinese culture to the world. Nowadays a total of 1.4 billion people use Chinese as their mother tongue and Chinese is one of the five working languages of the United Nations.
Language and cultural exchanges between China and Russia have a long history. Russia began to send students to China to learn the Chinese language and culture since the mid 17th century. In 1708 the Chinese government opened the first official school offering Russian language courses. Since new China was established 60 years ago more people from both sides began to learn each others' languages. Famous literary works of both countries were translated and introduced to each other, greatly promoting mutual understanding of the two peoples.
LANGUAGE, CULTURAL EXCHANGES FLOURISHED IN RECENT YEARS
Language and cultural exchanges have flourished in recent years. About 19,000 Chinese students are now studying in Russian universities and over 10,000 Russian students are studying in China. Nearly 100 state-funded Russian universities are running Chinese courses, with over 40 listing Chinese language as their first foreign language. The number of undergraduate and postgraduate students studying Chinese language in Russia is estimated to be more than 10,000.
Twelve Confucius Institutes and three Confucius Classrooms have been established in Russia. Seven Russian language centers have been set up in China, up to 100 Chinese universities offer Russian language courses with over 10,000 students majoring in the Russian language.
The content of cultural exchanges has been enriched, and more people are being involved with greater achievements. Chinese philosophy, literature, martial art, cuisine and traditional Chinese medicine enjoy wide popularity in Russia.
Xi expressed confidence that the "Chinese Language Year" in Russia will be a great success, helping more Russians understand the special charm of the chinese culture to further solidify the foundation of bilateral friendship and cooperation between the two countries.