I am delighted to be at the Confucius Classroom National Showcase event today. It is wonderful to see so many people here and a particular pleasure to see so many young people.
To invest in people, especially young people has been on the top list of our task in China. Before the opening up policy about more than 30 years ago, our supreme reformer Mr. Deng Xiaoping said that our young people must master 3-skill, that is skill in English speaking, computer utilization and driving, to keep abreast with the advancement of developed countries. Nowadays China has about 300 million English learners among its 1300 million population, 384 million Internet users and driving has become a "cup of tea" for our young people. When China was so poor, no one could afford personal vehicles, let alone driving.
I have visited some of the Confucius Classroom Hubs in Scotland and I have been very impressed with the progress that has been made in learning about Chinese culture and in learning Mandarin – we all know that Mandarin is an easy language to learn!
The link between Scotland and China is very important to us and the development of so many excellent Confucius Classroom Hubs in Scotland in such a short period of time really requires strong and innovative leadership. Mr. Bernard McLeary and Prof. Kay Livingston have continued to demonstrate this leadership and I am delighted with the progress that has been made in the past year. I am pleased to see the partnership between Learning & Teaching Scotland and the Hanban going from strength to strength.
Learning & Teaching Scotland has also forged a very strong partnership with the Tianjin Education Commission and it is wonderful to see the delegation from Tianjin led by Mr. Lin Yansheng here today. I hope that this is a partnership which will continue to grow and benefit the young people and teachers in both Scotland and China.
As well as visiting some of the Hubs, I know that there has been a big increase in the number of young people learning about Chinese language and culture. All the Hubs are making huge strides forward and I would like to thank all the staff, in all the hubs, who have made this progress possible – keep up the good work.
For us, it is very important that we share ideas in education and that we give the Scottish and Chinese young people the opportunity to learn more about each other's culture and prepare them well for their life as global citizens.
I am pleased to open this National Confucius Classroom Pupil Showcase and I am looking forward to the presentations today and looking at the displays of work.