The hand of friendship

Professor Chen Yulu

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett joins global roundtable at the birthplace of Confucius in China.

A senior advisor to China on cultural understanding, our Vice-Chancellor is today attending a global round table of the Confucius Institute in China. The high profile event is being held in Qufu, birthplace of Confucius, known throughout the world for his teaching on the harmonious society and good relations between peoples.

At an event drawing together advisers from government and education, Sir Keith has already held high-level meetings with the Global Director General of the Confucius Institute, Madame Xu Lin, herself an honorary graduate of our University. The Confucius Institute promotes the understanding of Chinese language and culture around the world.

Sir Keith said: “There has never been a more important time for the people of the United Kingdom to reach out the hand of friendship to China. It is not simply a question of trade or the many thousands of talented Chinese students who choose to advance their education in British universities, studying to become scientists, lawyers, doctors and architects.

“What really matters is that we as human beings and societies face mutual challenges which we can only fully address together. In particular, both China and the UK are grappling with issues of sustainable energy, climate change, how to develop our cities and care for the elderly as populations shift. These are questions which require common purpose and the willingness to listen and learn from one another.

Madame Xu Lin

“It is a great delight to me that this is exactly the spirit I repeatedly encounter in China. Whether it is collaboration on low-carbon energy or a desire to share cultural insights, we are remaining true to the teachings of Confucius that whenever a group gathers together in the spirit of mutual understanding, we also find that we meet teachers who help us to see and act in ways we could never do alone.”

President of Qingdao

Sir Keith, who is a speaker of Mandarin Chinese, is also holding separate meetings with leaders of Chinese universities and senior officials, as well as discussions with China's Metallurgical Corporation in relation to supporting business partnerships around advanced manufacturing and access to technologies which support more sustainable industries.