On 3 March 2018, Mae Fah Luang University and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the seminar titled “Strategies Engagement of the Confucius Institutes in Thailand under Thailand 4.0.” This seminar, intended for 10 Thai and 15 Chinese directors of 15 Confucius Institutes in Thailand, served as a channel for an exchange of best practices and discussion on further network collaboration between the two countries.
Among MFU’s guests of honor to the seminar were:
H.E. Mr. Lyu Jian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Thailand;
Mr. Damrong Kraikruan, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
Prof. Dr. Song Ruoyun, First Secretary (Education) of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Thailand;
Ms. Arjaree Sriratanaban, Deputy Director-General, Department of East Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and
Asst. Prof. Vorasakdi Mahatdhanobol, Director of Chinese Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University.
In their long-standing relations, Thailand and China have expanded their cooperation in various aspects including politics, security, economy, science, and people-to-people relations. Today, due to China’s rapid development, Chinese has become an increasingly important language in the world community, including Thailand, where the number of Chinese visitors continues to rise. The increase in the number of Thai learners of Chinese reflects the growing importance of the role of Chinese in facilitating better understanding and good relations between China and other nations.
The Confucius Institutes have been established in Thailand for 12 years. Currently, the 16 Confucius Institutes throughout Thailand perform the main role as a bridge and platform for promoting collaboration, communication, and Chinese language and culture education among the local people.
In his address, MFU President, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vanchai Sirichana, remarked that the Confucius Institutes in Thailand made a clear and systematic connection between China and Thailand. At the beginning of their establishment, the Confucius Institutes themselves to satisfying the demands of people from different countries and regions in the world for learning the Chinese language, enhancing the people’s understanding of the Chinese language and culture, strengthening educational and cultural exchange and cooperation between China and other countries, and deepening friendly relationships with other nations.
Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Vanchai Sirichana said that this meeting was an opportunity to review the Confucius Institutes’ roles and direction, in an effort to improve their operation. In the president’s opinion, the more widespread Chinese becomes, the more accepted China will be. For this reason, the Chinese language and culture serve as a potential platform for strengthening collaboration. As the world has changed, the Confucius Institutes should reconsider their role in linking China with other nations by enhancing the understanding of China’s policies and strategies based on their mutual benefits. This understanding will indeed usher in the smooth cooperation and foster global harmony.
This seminar featured parallel sessions for Chinese and Thai representatives. In each session, participants had opportunities to share their perspectives on CIs’ roles and achievements in the past few years; the obstacles and possible solutions regarding CIs’ operation; support for China’s and Thailand’s development strategies; CIs’ additional economic, investment, and trade support; and the institutes’ future directions. Through constructive discussions, the participants also expressed their expectations of the roles Hanban in Thailand plays in teaching quality enhancement.
Altogether, the meeting addressed that the Confucius Institutes would actively develop the teaching quality and produce professional Chinese language teachers to meet growing demand for learning Mandarin. Also, the Confucius Institutes will use Chinese language as a medium of enhancing an effective communication and understanding of China’s policy and strategy. The good communication and understanding will indeed usher in supporting the Thailand 4.0 policy and government’s operations as well as strengthening smooth cooperation between the two countries.