KUNMING, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- Confucius Institutes are important channels for countries along the Belt and Road to collaborate in culture, trade and economy, according to attendees at the 11th Confucius Institute Conference concluded on Sunday in Kunming, capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Over 2,200 principals and representatives from 140 countries and regions took part in this year's two-day conference, also known as the "Davos of the education sector".
With the new theme "innovation, cooperation, inclusion and sharing" proposed by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong for future development, this year's conference features discussions on Confucius Institutes' positive role in "Belt and Road" initiative.
"We will further promote the localization of Confucius Institutes, and its integration with the 'Belt and Road' initiative, so as to benefit people from all countries and contribute more to diversified civilizations," said Liu while addressing the conference.
Confucius Institutes have enormously boosted people-to-people exchange, trade, economic and educational cooperation along Belt and Road while promoting Chinese culture, attendees at the conference agreed.
China's Yunnan University and the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh will set up a new Confucius Institute to work as a platform for economic collaboration among China, Bangladesh, Myamar and India, said Md Kamal Uddin, vice president of University of Dhaka.
Lauding the institutes for bringing big rewards in cultural exchange between China other parts of the world, Uddin believed the new institute would be crucial to push forward the "Belt and Road" initiative.
He said that Confucius Institutes were the fruit of China's friendship with other parts of the world, and would form a collaboration bridge in enhancing 'Belt and Road' initiative.
Confucius Institutes are named after ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, and serve as non-profit public institutions to help foreigners better understand China by teaching Chinese language and culture at universities overseas. The first such institute was established in 2004.
Up to now, a total of 2.1 million people are studying Chinese language and culture in 511 Confucius Institutes and 1,073 Confucius Classrooms across 140 countries and regions.
Nancy Marlin, emeritus president at San Diego State University told Xinhua that while the China-sponsored initiative will make great contributions to global economic development, Confucius Institutes would deepen mutual understanding between peoples of China and the United States.
Marlin said the institute in San Diego offered six Chinese classic art courses most appealing to locals, such as poetry, tea rituals, calligraphy and Tai Chi.
She added that the course served as a cultural silk road, creating a new world for American students.
A new center aims at promoting mandarin in Southeast Asian countries, which are along the maritime Silk Road, was inaugurated in Yunnan University during the conference. The center will train Chinese language teachers and provide talent support for Confucius Institutes in the region.
"Confucius Institutes will play a new role in 'Belt and Road' initiative, and promote exchange among different cultures," said Jiang Yongwen, president of Yunan Normal University.