On 15 September, Ambassador Liu Jianchao visited Ateneo de Manila University, where he exchanged views with the University's President Father Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J. and deans of some schools on cooperation in education and cultural exchanges between China and the Philippines.
Ambassador Liu reiterated China's commitment to multi-faceted cooperation with the Philippines, education included. To that end, the two countries are set to ink an agreement on mutual recognition of diplomas later this year. Top-notch academic caliber among the developing countries, geographical vicinity to China, all-English curriculum and competitive educational price will steel the Philippines into a magnet attracting more and more Chinese students for their advanced studies. Ambassador Liu noted that many Ateneo alumni have become eminent political leaders of the country, and that Ateneo enjoys a good reputation for its academic excellence. The Ambassador encouraged Ateneo to step up exchanges with Chinese universities and increase its influence in China.
President Nebres thanked Ambassador Liu for his encouraging remarks and briefed on some Ateneo projects relating to education exchanges with China and the promotion of Chinese culture. Ateneo, in collaboration with China's Sun Yat-Sen University, launched the first Confucius Institute in the Philippines, which has been quite popular with the Philippine mainstream society. There are always ongoing cooperation projects between Ateneo and Sun Yat-Sen University. Chinese Film Festivals are held on regular basis to promote the Chinese culture. Ateneo is planning to open a "China Forum" or other China-related activities. To set up a Library on China has also been put on agenda.
President Nebres said, as learned from the process of EU integration, students exchange helps a lot in enhancing mutual understanding and nurturing the sense of community among countries. Ateneo is committed to play an active and positive part in boosting regional integration by drawing on the EU experience.
Ambassador Liu welcomed President Nebres's views on strengthening educational and cultural exchanges between China and ASEAN countries, shared with the latter the developments of China-ASEAN cooperation, of which the educational cooperation is the one with weight and substance. Ambassador Liu also sang high praise for what the Confucius Institute had achieved in terms of promoting the Chinese culture, and agreed to offer such assistance as book donation to the building of the Library on China.
With appreciation and pleasure, Ambassador Liu accepted the invitation from President Nebres to deliver on-campus speeches in the future. Ambassador Liu said, "Young students represent what a country wants to be and what it will be. They are really the driving force behind the growth of China-Philippine ties. I would be more than pleased to keep in close touch with the Philippine universities including Ateneo and make friends with the Philippine students. What I am doing and will do is nothing but add something new and fresh into China-Filipino friendship."
On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, Ambassador Liu donated around 200 books to Ateneo. He also mingled with some students and took their questions on learning Chinese, Chinese education and Chinese culture. The interaction underwent in a lively and relaxed atmosphere.
Established in 1859, Ateneo de Manila University has been a renowned private university in the Philippines. José Rizal, the Filipino national hero, and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo both graduated from Ateneo. The Confucius Institute was up and running in October 2006. Courses on China studies have been included in the curriculum for BA students in recent years.