新闻报道News返回

Confucius Institute: A Peace Builder of the World

2015-10-16 20:04

Speechby H.E. Paul Kavanagh, Ambassador of Ireland to China, on 2015 ConfuciusInstitute Headquarters Open Day

It is a great pleasure to join you thisafternoon at Hanban for this wonderful Open Day as we celebrate the theme of“Cultural Exchanges and World Peace”. In doing so, we will all want torecognize the seminal contribution of Hanban, precisely to cultural exchangeworldwide, and therefore also to the building and sustaining of peace betweencountries and peoples.


When I think of China, and of what itmeans, almost automatically, I come to focus on this country’s immense andvenerable culture. It is largely this culture, continually evolving, and notleast China’s language, a written language since millennia, that has keep thiscountry and the Chinese people together, through thick and thin. It is thisculture that unites Chinese people the world over and across the centuries. Thisgreat culture of China has played a key role, in enabling the Chinese people toemerge into the modern world, dignified, proud and united, looking to an everbrighter future.

Following centuries of challenge andadversity, the severity of which we can hardly imagine. Many of us here todayfrom all corners of the world come from, or indeed have the honor to representcountries and peoples which also have received from our ancestors rich, diverseand enduring cultures of our own. Many of us have ancient languages andliterature in those languages- which define us as peoples, and to aconsiderable extent as individuals. These cultures give us our individuality aspeoples. But they also equip us to recognize and embrace the universal, theshared situation on earth that shapes our common humanity.

They equip us to step beyond thespecificity of our own situation, to embrace the essential worth and dignity ofthe other, to overcome divisiveness, including that which flows from difficulthistory. Our cultures enable us to exchange ideas, values and creations. Suchexchanges allow us to grow. As has been said: if I come and you come, and weeach trade an apple with the other, then we each leave with one apple; on theother hand, if we each come with an idea and we exchange ideas, then we eachleave with at least two ideas.

Our cultures may be ancient, but theyshould also be modern, creative, dynamic, and open. Cultural exchange ought tomake us more tolerant, and in this, it helps us both to avoid or overcomeconflict, and to build peace, and reconciliation. The founding charter ofUNESCO is eloquent in this regard: “since wars begin in the minds of men, it isin the minds of men that peace must be constructed”. This is why Hanban is abuilder of peace. It is why we, Hanban’s friends and partners, too are engagedin building peace together.

My country, Ireland, has excellentrelations with China. This is true in the political field, in economic,financial, trade and investment terms, in education and research, and of coursein the cultural domain. We are delighted that there are three ConfuciusInstitutes on the island of Ireland; and that the Chinese government about toestablish a major Chinese Cultural Center in Ireland’s capital. I was honored,Madam Director, to join you and Mr. Liu Yunshan in 2014 to help lay thefoundation stone of the new model Institute in Dublin. It is gratifying thatour two governments are sharing the cost of this institute.

Currently, two new modules for thejunior cycle are added in Ireland, one is software coding and the other Chineselanguage and culture. In Ireland, degree-level programs in mandarin, combinedwith commerce, international studies, intercultural studies, computer science,marketing and so for are being taught in a range of our universities, and otherinstitutions. The Irish government provides financial support to a voluntarygroup of teachers who are already qualified in other subjects and who wish toqualify and to teach Chinese. This group has strong links to the DublinConfucius Institute. These collaborations with Hanban have enabled Ireland, thebetter to build educational as well as cultural exchanges with China over thepast decade. I look forward, Madam Director, to joining you next month herewhen Ireland’s Minister for Education pays her annual call on the Headquarters.

Ireland is fortunate to have a culturethat is widely recognized. Language and literature are a key part of who weare. Our four Nobel Laureates in Literature are well known: Yeats, Shaw,Beckett and Heaney. But several of Ireland’s most famous writers never receivedthe Nobel Prize, I thinks of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde for example. Music andDance too are an essential part of what makes the Irish people Irish. For manyChinese, River Dance or Enya are their first encounter with Ireland and thingsIrish.

We Irish know from our history thatmutual respect, tolerance, and forgiveness are important to the building ofpeace and reconciliation. We know too that this is greatly facilitated whenpeoples embrace each other, and when they embrace each other’s culture.

Of course China and Ireland will neverenter conflict on against each other. Have no fear!! At global and regionallevel, absence of conflict is not enough. We are obliged, each of us, fromevery country, our various asymmetries notwithstanding, to contribute tobuilding peace, real peace, more widely in the world. We in Ireland are happyto work with China to this end, and we are happy to work with one of China’sleading peace builders, Hanban!