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Chinese University Introduces Kinyarwanda Language Course

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Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) in Beijing has introduced Kinyarwanda language course program to Chinese students.

Under cooperation with the University of Rwanda, the Chinese University introduced the Kinyarwanda language course to Chinese students as the second African language after Kiswahili in the region.

Kinyarwanda is the 13th African language this university teaches.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Tuesday evening, October 8, 2019, the Beijing Foreign Studies University Vice President Professor Jia Wenjian applauded the launch of the Kinyarwanda language to Chinese students.

“We are honored to be the first Chinese University to introduce Kinyarwanda language course to Chinese students. This is a true symbolic relationship value that our two countries attaches to each other. Our students will learn and master the Kinyarwanda language, said Prof Jia, the University Vice President.

Reiterating the friendship between China and Rwanda, Shu Zhan, the former Ambassador of China to Rwanda, said that, China and Rwanda share common vision of development.“When I was Ambassador of China in Rwanda, I witnessed the good common vision and good values of Rwandans for finding homegrown solutions to their problems, this has enabled the country’s development over the past decade,” said Shu Zhan.

The former envoy added that, Rwanda’s image today reflects the hardworking of Rwandan people and their leadership.

Virgile Rwanyagatare, the Embassy Charge’ d’affaire praised the cooperation between University of Rwanda and Beijing Foreign Studies University that has enabled the start of Kinyarwanda language to Chinese students.

This will, among others, enable people-to-people exchange between Rwandans and Chinese people the in future.

Dr. Patrice Ntawigira, the Kinyarwanda language course instructor from University of Rwanda, commended the Beijing Foreign Studies University move to introduce  Kinyarwanda course program among other foreign languages courses at University.

“You have made a good choice; Kinyarwanda language is now used and spoken by about forty (40) million people in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Kinyarwanda is one of the very large families of African Languages, after Kiswahili. It stretches in a great region of Central Africa. With Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili, BFSU will connect all Chinese People to almost all Africans from Sub-Saharan Region, Rwandans included,” Dr. Ntawigira said.Teaching and Learning Kinyarwanda at BFSU could not be better timed than today, “when our two countries are celebrating 48 years of good diplomatic relations,” Dr. Ntawigira added.

“The introduction of Kinyarwanda course at Chinese University and Chinese course at University of Rwanda under Confucius Institute Centre reflects the good sign of strengthening the long existing good friendship relations between Rwandans and Chinese. The program makes Rwandans and Chinese ‘Brothers and Sisters’ not ‘Friends’,” Ntawigira said.

Below is the speech by the Vice President of the University Jia Wenjian at the event. 

Dear Your Excellency Virigile Rwanyagatare, Charge d ‘Affaires A.I. of the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in China:
Dear Ambassador Shu Zhan,
Dear teachers, students and friends, Good evening!
A week ago, the Chinese people celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China. A week before National Day, BFSU officially expanded the School of Asian and African Studies to establish the School of African Studies and the School of Asian Studies. The opening of Kinyarwanda classe tonight is the first event since the establishment of the School of African Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University. On behalf of Beijing Foreign Studies University, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Rwandan Embassy in China and ambassador Shu Zhan for their care and support in the development of the Kinyarwanda curriculum. Thanks to the concerted efforts of all of you, the Kinyarwanda course has been offered for the first time in a Chinese university. This is an important event to be remembered in the history of China-Rwanda relations and a great honor for those from BFSU. Each of us is proud to be a witness and a participant.
Situated in the mountains of lake Victoria, Rwanda is known as “the land of a thousand hills” for its beautiful scenery and spring-like atmosphere. In recent years, under the leadership of President Kagame, Rwanda has made remarkable achievements in its development, becoming one of the fastest growing countries in Africa. It has made remarkable achievements in human development index, security index, business environment, government transparency and women’s empowerment. We are sincerely pleased and appreciative of this.
In July 2018, President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to Rwanda. During this visit, President Xi Jinping proposed to strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, promote mutual understanding between the two peoples and lay a solid social and popular foundation for China-Rwanda friendship from generation to generation.
As the university with the largest number of foreign languages in China, BFSU has been committed to promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and foreign countries. In 2018, our school was approved to offer the major of Kinyarwanda. After a year of hard work, the Kinyarwanda course opens today. We hope to train a group of multilingual and versatile talents in China who are familiar with the Kinyarwanda and social culture and make their own contribution to the inheritance and promotion of China-Rwanda and China-Africa friendship.
It is hoped that students will cherish the rare learning opportunity, and under the guidance of teacher Patrice Ntawigira, they will devote themselves to the learning of Kinyarwanda with full enthusiasm and assume the glorious mission of China-Africa dialogue in the future.
Thank you!

Speech by Virgile Rwanyagatare
Ambassador Shu Zhan,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening!
First of all, I would like to thank the School of Asia and African Studies of Beijing Foreign Studies University for inviting the Embassy of Rwanda to this memorable day, the inaugural ceremony of the Kinyarwanda language course; with the purpose of encouraging Chinese students to learn about the language and culture of Rwanda and produce top language talents. This ceremony will be remembered forever and that’s why I am very proud to be here and share this significant moment with you.
Rwanda has enjoyed very close cooperation with China for close to 48 years now. Diplomatic relations with China begun in 1971 and have seen great momentum since 1995 following the RPF defeat of the genocidal government and stopping the genocide against the Tutsi.
In that year, 1995, at the invitation of H.E Zhang Zenming, the then President of the People’s Republic of China, H.E Paul Kagame (then the Vice President and Minister of Defense) visited Beijing and held talks with the president. Since then cooperation between the two sides has seen much progress.
Our two countries relations are based on principles of mutual respect and win-win cooperation that characterize Chinese relations with other African countries, but with Rwanda they have a uniquely strong political foundation. The two ruling Parties, the Rwanda Patriotic Front and the Communist Party of China are both liberation movements and are founded on ideals of total emancipation of the popular masses. Their vision is to liberate the common people from all sorts of obstacles to progress and happiness. Listening to President Xi Jinping and looking at his vision, you realize that he is from the same school of thought as our President! Both leaders are engrossed with the lives of the masses, nothing else is more important.
Rwanda has therefore found in China a reliable partner. Our two countries have a lot in common beginning with the founding of the ruling political systems. Both were founded as revolutions to liberate our countries from corrupt and backward political systems that pursued opportunistic objectives. The objective of our two political systems therefore is to restore our societies to glory through pursuit of people centered development.
When President Paul Kagame and President Xi Jinping met in March 2017 they discussed about various cooperation projects. In July 2018 when President Xi Jinping visited Rwanda, 15 agreements of cooperation were signed between the two countries among which the agreement on scientific cooperation.
The teaching of Kinyarwanda language here is another proof of the good relations between our countries which is reflected in many areas of cooperation. Training and skills development is one of the 8 major initiatives which were declared during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
I hope that the first batch of students will take this opportunity to master the Kinyarwanda language. Learning Kinyarwanda is worth the efforts as you will be able to communicate with the people of Rwanda. I also hope that they will take time to discover the profound Rwandese culture, the good values of Rwandan society.
As the Charge d’affaire of Rwanda Embassy, on behalf of the Rwandan government, I would like to thank the Beijing Foreign Studies University for the good cooperation which is already bearing fruits and strengthening Rwanda-China friendship.
Once again, congratulations to Students, I wish you all the best in your Kinyarwanda studies.
Thank you very much.

 

 

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Asia

Chinese Ambassador Shares Seven Buzzwords To Showcase Fast-changing China

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Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang on Wednesday shared with Americans seven buzzwords that are currently popular in China to illustrate what is going on in his country.

“The buzzwords I shared with you today reflect the changing and unchanging elements in our values when China experiences rapid economic growth and profound social transformation,” said Qin in his keynote speech at the online Forum on Tourism, Hospitality and Cultural Exchange co-hosted by the U.S.-Asia Institute and Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The first buzzword Qin mentioned was “People First, Life First,” which was widespread during China’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and reflects a deep concern for humanity.

Likewise, “Heroes in Harm’s Way” has also gone viral in China, which refers to the everyday heroes who put their mission before their lives and made fearless sacrifices to fight the pandemic, Qin said.

To “Lie Flat” is a term to describe the youngsters who give up ambitions and do the bare minimum to get by, Qin said, adding “lie-flatters” are either people from well-off families or those who believe in whatever comes their way.

“Versailles,” originally from the “Palace of Versailles” in French, was borrowed to describe the self-claimed aristocratic spirit. On social media, it is used to label humble-braggers, he said.

“Involution,” one of the latest buzzwords in China, indicates irrational or involuntary competitions, while “Double Reduction” is a recent policy formulated by the government to address involution in education, which aims to restore the original purpose of education by restricting capital in the sector, Qin said.

The last buzzword, “Celebrity Fan Clubs,” refers to the phenomenon that some celebrities use internet to hype up themselves and cause their fans to admire them in an irrational manner, while such abnormalities stem from a chain of interests dominated by online platforms and the capital that supports them, he said.

In his speech, Qin said that socialism with Chinese characteristics requires material progress and cultural-ethical advancement, adding, “We need to keep fine traditional values, uphold fairness and justice, and not get lost in a market economy.”

“(Being) rooted in traditional Chinese values is a concern for the common good of humanity,” he added.

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Asia

Singapore Parliament Approves Law To Tackle Foreign Interference

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Singapore’s parliament has approved a law that gives broad powers to the government to deal with foreign interference that has sparked concern from the opposition and experts about its wide scope and limits on judicial review.

The small and open city-state, which says it is vulnerable to foreign meddling, targeted fake news with a far-reaching law in 2019, and joins nations such as Australia and Russia that have passed laws in recent years to deter foreign interference.

The bill, formally known as the Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA), was passed late on Monday with 75 members voting in favour, 11 opposition members objecting and two abstaining, local media reported.

Among the measures, FICA allows authorities to compel internet, social media service providers and website operators to provide user information, block content and remove applications.

Those deemed or designated as “politically significant persons” under the law will have to comply with strict rules relating to donations and declare their links to foreign entities.

Instead of court, an independent tribunal, chaired by a judge, will hear appeals against the minister’s decisions, a move the government says is necessary to protect national security.

The tribunal’s decisions will be final.

The government said FICA does not cover the building of overseas partnerships, soliciting overseas businesses, networking with foreigners, sourcing for donations or those discussing policies or political matters that affect their businesses with foreign colleagues or business partners, or supporting charities.

“As long as they are done in an open and transparent manner, and not part of an attempt to manipulate our political discourse or undermine public interest such as security,” K Shanmugam, minister for home affairs, said in parliament.

It will also not affect Singaporeans expressing their own views or engaging in advocacy.

The home affairs ministry has also previously said it would not apply to foreign individuals or publications “reporting or commenting on Singapore politics, in an open, transparent and attributable way.”

But some critics say its broad language risks capturing even legitimate activities, while rights group Reporters Without Borders said the law could ensnare independent media outlets.

Experts and Singapore’s opposition parties have called for narrowing the scope of executive powers and more oversight through the judiciary.

The bill was passed without strengthening “the circumscribed checks and balances, particularly judicial review,” said Eugene Tan, a law professor at Singapore Management University.

“While assurances were given, they could have been given unequivocal expression through legislative codification.”

However, Shanmugam said the bill represented the “best balance…between dealing with the risks and providing checks against abuse.”

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Afghanistan: Stay Home, Female Kabul Government Workers Told

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The new Taliban mayor of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has told female municipal employees to stay home unless their jobs cannot be filled by a man.

Hamdullah Nomany said the Taliban “found it necessary to stop women from working for a while”.

It is the latest restriction imposed on Afghanistan’s women by the country’s hard-line new Islamist government.

During their previous rule in the 1990s women were barred from education and the workplace.

After seizing the country last month following the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban said women’s rights would be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.

But the Taliban favour a strict interpretation of Islam’s legal system, Sharia law.

Since taking power working women have been told to stay at home until the security situation improves, and Taliban fighters have beaten women protesting against the all-male interim government.

The Islamist group appears to have shut down the women’s affairs ministry and replaced it with a department that once enforced strict religious doctrines.

And this weekend secondary schools reopened, but with only boys and male teachers allowed back into classrooms. The Taliban said it was working on reopening schools for girls.

According to the Kabul mayor about a third of the municipality’s 3,000 employees are women. He said some would carry on working.

“For example, women work in the women’s toilets in the city where men cannot go,” he said.

“But for the positions that others [men] can fill, we have told them [women] to stay at home until the situation is normalised. Their salaries will be paid,” he added.

On Sunday, there were small protests outside the women’s affairs ministry while another group of women held a press conference to demand their rights.

One of those protesting at the ministry said “we do not want this ministry to be removed. The removal of women [means] the removal of human beings.”

In a separate development, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said it had been unable to fulfil its duties since the Taliban’s takeover.

The organisation said in a statement that its buildings, vehicles and computers had all been taken over by the Taliban.

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