As many as 50,000 Chinese and foreign students, study Arabic and Islamic culture at various universities and educational institutions in Beijing, asserts Zhang Hong, professor at Beijing Foreign Studies (BFU).
Zhang was speaking to Arab News at a reception hosted by the Chinese Ambassador to Riyadh Li Chengwen in honor of Arabist Chinese academics who are visiting the capital to attend the ongoing Janadriyah festival.
Arabic language is taught at more than 40 universities in China, the professor added.
Among these universities are the University of International Business and Economics and Beijing Foreign Studies (BFU). The latter produces most of the Chinese diplomats and ambassadors posted in the country’s missions in Arab countries.
Prominent Saudi academics and media men including Abdullah Al-Washmi, secretary-general of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for the Arabic Language, attended the event.
“BFU, which was established under the Chinese Foreign Affair program was the cradle of Chinese diplomacy,” he said, adding that in the eighties it came under the Chinese Ministry of Education.
He said BFU specializes in producing Chinese professionals well versed in foreign languages and experts in the science of languages.
“At our university, 60 major international languages are being taught, including Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish. These languages are recognized as business languages at the United Nations and other international organizations,” he said.
BFU has produced 400 Chinese ambassadors and 700 consultants who work in Chinese embassies around the world in political, economic and other domains. “The current Chinese ambassador to Riyadh is one of BFU’s graduates,” Zhang added.
He said that 200 Chinese students have completed the Arabic language course at BFU, of which more than 30 have been appointed ambassadors to Arab countries. Currently there are more than 10 Arabist Chinese ambassadors posted in Arab countries, including the Chinese Ambassadors to the United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman, Sudan, Iraq and even Turkey.
“The Chinese government and the people of China have displayed a keen interest in learning the Arabic language because it represents a strong bridge that connects the two worlds,” the professor said, adding: “Saudi Arabia has an equal interest to teach Arabic, and disseminate Arabic and Islamic civilization to China.”
He said cultural ties between the two countries are growing, especially with the presence of more than 3,000 Saudi students in China.
Meanwhile, Li, the Chinese ambassador, stressed that the participation of Arabist Chinese in the national heritage festival reflects the Chinese government’s keen interest in boosting relations between the two countries.
“We have chosen to strengthen existing bonds between our two countries through cultural exchanges,” the ambassador said. (Arab News)