The Confucius Institute at the state-run University of Panama (UP) plans to inaugurate new headquarters here in the Panamanian capital to boost cultural exchange between China and the Central American country.
New facilities are being readied at the UP, including two classrooms for basic and advanced students of Mandarin, a library, an audiovisual department, and some administrative offices, said Junhui David Wu, general director of the UP's Confucius Institute.
Wu has been working on the project for 11 years, with the support of the PU and the Chinese embassy. Reflecting the new spirit of partnership between Panama and China, each government is financing 50 percent of the project.
China's presence in Panama can be traced back to at least 150 years ago, but the two countries cemented their bilateral relationship by formally establishing diplomatic ties in June.
"The Confucius Institute is a center for teaching Mandarin to people around the world...and this space will provide a venue for young Panamanians and officials from different institutions, or people from NGOs, who want to learn Mandarin," Wu explained.
According to Wu, the courses provided by the institute are designed for airport or customs officials, border agents, police officers and businessmen who need to communicate in Chinese. The language teachers will be supplied by Beijing International Studies University, he added.
When completed beyond the end of the year, Panama's Confucius Institute will join a network of 500 such language centers around the world.