Youthful promise of closer relations

Updated: 2015-09-18 07:42

By Fu Jing and Zhang Chunyan(China Daily Europe)

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Youthful promise of closer relations

Vice-Premier Liu Yandong receives a kiss from a student at the launch ceremony of Confucius class, a project focusing on Chinese language and culture, at European School in Brussels on Sept 15. Contributed by Phoenix TV

Vice-Premier Liu Yandong, long-time youth advocate, visits Europe to encourage a wide variety of educational, cultural and other exchanges

Thirty-two years ago, when she was leader of China's Youth League, Vice-Premier Liu Yandong says she started to visit Europe to boost mutual understanding among Chinese and European youth. Since then, she has set foot in 20 European countries.

Liu, arriving in Europe again for a weeklong visit starting Sept 14 to Belgium, the European Union headquarters and the United Kingdom to promote people-to-people exchanges, says the youth of both sides share great responsibility in bridging gaps in mutual understanding.

"To achieve that, the youth are our hope," Liu said in a speech at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel before she left for London on Sept 16.

Meeting with Chinese students in Belgium, Liu asked about their academic performance and encouraged them to be bridge-builders between China and Europe.

At the third round of the EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue, she and her European Union counterpart, Tibor Navracsics, agree to boost student exchanges between China and the EU.

"I want to promote our respective programs for education, training, culture, youth and research," says Navracsics. "These programs give millions of young people the chance to study, work and volunteer in another country."

In 2012, China and the EU began building the people-to-people dialogue, making it a third pillar of the bilateral partnership after strategic dialogue and economic and trade dialogue, which is scheduled at the end of the month in Beijing.

Navracsics says he wants to develop common strategies for the internationalization of higher education, and continue to launch new projects for cultural diplomacy to support the contribution of culture to regional and urban development.

"And we must give new impetus to our joint activities for youth, and support language learning," says Navracsics.

Liu says China will encourage more students to study overseas while planning to boost the number of foreign students in China to 500,000, up from the current 360,000, by the end of 2020.

"This means that we are going to increase the number of foreign students in China by about 150,000 in the coming five years," says Liu. "We will open our door wider and wider, offering access for foreign youths to learn and understand China."

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