Cape Town - Relations between South Africa and China took another positive step when the Confucius Institute for Chinese Medicine was launched at the University of the Western Cape on Thursday – the first of its kind on the African continent.
Established by UWC in conjunction with Zhejiang Normal University and Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, the Institute is set to deepen scholarly ties between the institutions and collaboratively begin sharing expertise in traditional Chinese medicine, according to UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Support, Professor Pamela Dube.
Welcoming the audience which included a delegation from China, colleagues from other local universities and traditional healers, Prof Dube noted that the launch was a expansion of joint research, mobility, staff-student experiences and internationalisation, as captured in the UWC’s Institutional Operational Plan.
“This endeavour sought to build on our strengths in research, learning and teaching Chinese culture, Chinese language teaching and complementary medicine to benefit our respective students and communities.”
Meko Magida, UWC’s executive director for Human Resources, said the launch was a “remarkable occasion” for UWC as the university believes in expanding its networks of cooperation and exposing its students to a broader world of culture and knowledge.
Magida said the institute would help facilitate academic cooperation among the universities in South Africa and China.
“One of our goals as a research-institution is creating networks of cooperation across the globe because we believe that collaboration and international mobility make science stronger. Over the next years, we will use this platform to work with Chinese universities in a range of areas and activities – culture, language, Chinese medicine and academic research.”
Chen Zhong, President of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, recalled that the traditional Chinese medicine culture has been introduced in South Africa by Chinese immigrants for more than 200 years and that the South African government passed a law in 2000 confirming its legal status.
He said the new institute would “give full play to the strengths of traditional Chinese medicine and better serve the people of South Africa.”
Zheng Mengzhuang, President of Zhejiang Normal University (ZJNU), mentioned that ZJNU has had a prolonged effort in collaborating with institutions in Sout Africa. He said:” cross-cultural communication and exchange are great vehicles for social progress and development. The launch of the Confucius Institute through is not only the fruit of collaboration, but also a landmark of the deepen of people-to-people
Lin Jing, Consul General of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Cape Town, said the relationship between China and South Africa has entered “Golden Harvest Season”, which provides an excellent environment for the development of Confucius Institutes in South Africa.
He said the new institute “symbolises that the mission of the Confucius Institutes in South Africa has expanded from language teaching to a broader field, lifting the level of people-to-people exchange and educational cooperation between China and South Africa to a new height".