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21 Jun 2016

Minsk, Beijing to increase student exchanges

MINSK, 21 June (BelTA) – Minsk and Beijing will increase exchanges of school and university students. A relevant agreement was reached at a meeting between Minsk authorities and a delegation of the People’s Republic of China on 21 June, BelTA has learned.

The meeting held at the Minsk Town Hall involved Minsk Mayor Andrei Shorets, head of the Education Committee of Minsk City Hall Mikhail Mironchik, and director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education Xian Lianping. The participants signed a memorandum of cooperation in education between the twinned cities of Minsk and Beijing.

Andrei Shorets noted that Minsk and Beijing signed a twinning agreement in April 2016. Since then, cooperation ties have been established between the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau and the Central Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk City Hall. “I am confident that, despite the thousands of kilometers between us, we will successfully strengthen our relations not only in the economy, but also in education. This will benefit both our cities and produce a positive effect on the quality of education,” the Minsk Mayor said.

He also pointed out that Minsk will be hosting the Belarusian People’s Congress on 22 and 23 June. “The Congress will adopt the program for Belarus’ social and economic development for the next five years. Education is given much attention in the program. It is symbolic that the visit of the Chinese delegation has coincided with this major event,” Andrei Shorets emphasized.

Xian Lianping, for his part, noted that he believes that Minsk and Beijing have big prospects for cooperation in education. “The exchanges of school and university students, teaching staff have a great future,” the Chinese official said. He pointed out that Beijing is interested in establishing direct contacts with schools and universities of Minsk.

As for Mikhail Mironchik, he said that Chinese has been studied at Minsk schools since 2006. Some of them have Confucius Classrooms. Children from Minsk show good results at international Chinese-language contests. “We have been getting acquainted with the Chinese side for several years. The signing of the memorandum will mark a new stage in the Belarusian–Chinese relations in the education sector,” Mikhail Mironchik stressed. He added that an action plan for the implementation of the memorandum will be drawn up. “We hope that Russian and Belarusian, the official languages of Belarus, will be studied at the educational establishments of Beijing,” the Belarusian official said.

The meeting at the Minsk Town Hall was also attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China Cui Qiming who emphasized that Belarus attaches much importance to interregional cooperation, including to the relations between Beijing and Minsk. “The Beijing Mayor visited Minsk in May 2015. In April 2016, the Minsk Mayor paid a visit to the Chinese capital to sign a twinning agreement. The memorandum signed in Minsk on 21 June will advance the cooperation between the two cities,” the diplomat said.

Cui Qiming emphasized that the capital cities have great prospects for cooperation in education. “Schools in Minsk started to teach Chinese in 2006. Last year, Beijing Foreign Studies University started to offer a Belarusian Language program. I think in Beijing and Minsk there are many young people, school students and teachers willing to study the Belarusian and Chinese language and culture,” the diplomat said.

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