On Friday, 14 September 2018, UJ’s Vice-Chancellor along with a delegation composed of the Vice-Dean and Professors from the Chemistry department as well as the Internationalisation Office and the UJ Confucius Institute welcomed China’s Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Xu Nanping.
Representatives from the South African Department of Science and Technology as well as the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa were also present. The visit was a special one, with the minister currently in South Africa in relation to science collabrations jointly undertaken with the South African government.
UJ’s Vice- Chancellor, Professor Marwala spoke on the timeliness of the visit and of the implications it carried for UJ in particular and South Africa in general. “At a time when China and South Africa as well as Africa at large are experiencing the height of cooperation, and working even closer, your visit is quite important and for us quite welcome,” he told the Vice-Minister. The VC added that the University still had many initiatives on which it was seeking cooperation with Chinese universities. “We have a long-term view of the relationships established and we are still to cooperate on many areas including on the establishment of a Medical School and the growth of our newly opened Business School”, he said.
The Vice-Minister echoed the sentiments of goodwill between the university and the various Chinese universities, including Nanjing Tech University of which he himself is a former President, and stated that the he looked forward to further collaboration with the university and Chinese universities. He further expressed interest on the university’s tilt towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The delegation went on for a special tour of the University of Johannesburg Confucius Institute premises, and interacted with the Mandarin and Wushu students, 29 of whom had recently been to China for the Summer Camp programme where they visited Nanjing and Beijing for fourteen days.
The VC spoke of the Confucius Institute, which has facilitated in the bringing in of scholars from China as well as managing a joint language lab with Nanjing Tech University, as having a critical node in the realisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as it was conduit for communication and understanding across civilisations of China and Africa as well as knowledge and technological transfer.
“It is our aim that the UJCI will become a model Confucius Institute, with a clear Fourth Industrial Revolution purpose as well a center of technological application in its teaching, in learning and in research.” The Vice-Minister also commended the Confucius Institute’s focus on language, culture and research dissemination on the political economy of the relationship between African countries and China.”
Both the VC and Vice-Minister hoped for a continued and growing people-to-people exchange between UJ and China, and the Vice-Minister indicated that the VC was always welcome in China and hoped for a special visit soon.