The Confucius Institute at Fourah Bay College yesterday Tuesday celebrated Chinese New Year otherwise known as Spring Festival at their Kortright campus, Might Aureol. Addressing guests at the ceremony, Chinese Ambassador Hu Zhangliang said he was happy to be part of this year Confucius Spring Festival celebration and extended New Year greetings to all. “Last year was a very significant year for China as we warmly celebrated 70th anniversary. Last year was also an important year for China-Sierra Leone friendship. We witnessed many practical cooperation projects bearing fruits. In educational fields, we offered 119 Chinese government scholarships and 678 short-term training opportunities for Sierra Leonean friends from all walks of life.” Amb. Hu averred that in October last year, 47 students benefited from the Chinese Ambassador Scholarships, and during the visit of Yang Jiechi, Special Representative of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, the Chinese government pledged to provide two million Yuan to support Sierra Leone’s Free Quality Education, and the Embassy has transferred this assistance to the Ministry of Basic Education a few days ago. “China also provided 6,923 tons of rice aid last year, part of which was used to support the Free Quality Education program.” The Ambassador said that the Chinese lunar year is corresponding with 12 Symbolic animal signs, which is also called Chinese Zodiac. The year 2020 he said marks the beginning year of a cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, and the beginning brings new outlook. “I believe that China-Sierra Leone cooperation in all fields will yield more results. The Chinese government will continue to cooperate closely with its counterpart in human capacity building sector, and I am firmly of the belief that those who have benefited from the above mentioned programs would serve as goodwill ambassadors between our two countries.”
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He said he has taken note here that many Chinese cultural programs are prepared, including calligraphy, tea ceremony, paper-cutting, as well as some Chinese folk activities, such as guessing lantern riddle, kicking shuttlecock. Amb. Hu said he is sure that many have felt the joyous atmosphere of the Chinese Spring Festival through the event and said he hopes this event would bring the two peoples closer, and enhance mutual understanding. Director of Confucius Institute Professor Bai Shuping said this year 2020, according to Chinese Lunar calendar, is the year of the Rat. He said since ancient times, the Chinese people began to use the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches to record the passing of years. “At this same time, Chinese nomadic people who lived in northwest of China instead, used animals to number the years. The two ways of numbering the years were smoothly integrated, and the Chinese zodiac took shape. Thus a cycle of 12 years are represented by 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac in a sequence as follows: mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.” Professor Bai said with the mouse coming first, this year is the mouse year, is the starting year of the 12-year cycle to come. The Director said the reason why the Chinese New year is called the Spring Festival is because the Chinese people now number the years and their age under the Gregorian calendar, and they still continue to use their own lunar calendar based on the cycles of the moon and constructed in a different fashion from the western Gregorian solar calendar. “ln the Chinese lunar calendar, as the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February in spring, we celebrate Chinese New Year by celebrating The Spring Festival, and this year’s Spring Festival starts 24th January. This year is mouse year, mouse symbolizes Wisdom, sharpness, and diligence. The Spring Festival means hopefulness, planting seeds and good planning mouse year brings with it an ocean of good luck and blessings to both Sierra Leoneans and Chinese people, and may Sierra Leone-Chinese friendship last forever.” Also the representative of the Mayor of Freetown also commended the Chinese Government and said the twinning between Freetown and Guangzhou has been a success. There were Chinese cultural performances, tea making, paper cutting and calligraphy performances before and during the ceremony.
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