Wang Yongli from the Chinese embassy observes students learning Mandarin at Hautlieu School on Friday. FENG ZHI/CHINA DAILY
Jersey has deepened its links with China, with the British Crown dependency officially launching its first Confucius Classroom, which opened in Hautlieu School last week as the 1,000th such facility worldwide.
Hautlieu's status as a Confucius Classroom was accredited when China's President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to the UK in October 2015, during which he and Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, unveiled a plaque.
Speaking at the official launch last week, Wang Yongli, minister counselor for education at the Chinese embassy, said: "I think, in the days ahead, through the close cooperation between Hautlieu and Confucius Institute, all boys and girls in Jersey will have lots of opportunities to explore the extensiveness and profoundness of Chinese language and culture."
Friday's opening ceremony was witnessed by top Jersey officials including Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst, Minister for External Relations Sir Philip Bailhache, and delegates from Beijing Bayi School, with which Hautlieu has been twinned since 2011.
Bayi School is also President Xi's alma mater, where he spent his elementary and junior high school years.
As part of their annual European tour, more than 150 students and staff from Bayi School have visited Jersey. Hautlieu students are expected to make a reciprocal visit to Beijing in March.
Nick Falle, Hautlieu's head teacher said the relationship between the schools has gone from strength to strength.
"We are delighted to welcome another group of Chinese students to our school," he said. "So many language and cultural opportunities are going to be available to Hautlieu students and to Jersey as a whole."
Confucius status is given to schools that have Chinese-learning firmly embedded in their curriculum and that offer advice to other schools on how to start offering Mandarin.
In recent years, Confucius institutes and classrooms in the UK have enjoyed rapid development. To date, the UK has established 29 Confucius Institutes and 135 Confucius Classrooms, including the one in Jersey, making the UK the European economy with the most such Confucius teaching facilities.
Jersey Education Minister Deputy Rod Bryan said: "Jersey's links with China bring tangible educational benefits for our students and staff.
"I have seen for myself the positive impact on young people of meeting fellow students from a completely different culture. They also reinforce the work our government is doing to build business partnerships that could be of great value to Jersey's economy in future."
Hautlieu students have been learning Mandarin since September 2016 with the help of a Chinese teacher from Beijing.