Oxford attests to power of the nation

Updated: 2014-09-09 07:12

By Cecily Liu(China Daily)

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Oxford attests to power of the nation
Britain's Prince William meets with wellwishers as he officially opens the Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre, in Oxford, central England Sept 8, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

Oxford University's new China center demonstrates the university's devotion to the study of the Chinese language and attests to the increasing power China has in the world, students said.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, opened the center on Monday.

"I'm very excited about the new center. It shows that Chinese studies are important to the university and that the university wants to give students a great experience," said Elisabeth Forster, 28, who is in her third year of pursuing a PhD in Chinese studies.

Forster said that since moving into the new center in Oxford, England, she has enjoyed using its spacious library, which overlooks a beautiful courtyard that has bamboo plants.

She said she also looks forward to using the common room when the new university semester begins and more students return to the university.

The $34 million Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre was named after its major donor, Dickson Poon CBE, a Hong Kong philanthropist.

Poon said he believes that China will become an even more significant world force this century, so he wanted to make this gift to help advance understanding of Chinese culture.

The new, five-story building has a total area of nearly 5,500 square meters. Its dedicated library and a reading room will provide a permanent home for 60,000 volumes and a large part of the Bodleian Library's Chinese book collection.

Forster said the most exciting aspect of the center is its ability to combine what was previously known as the Institute for Chinese Studies, which focused more on historical studies of China, and the old China Center, which placed more emphasis on the study of contemporary China.

"The new center will have enough room to accommodate students from both departments, so we will have more interaction and learn more from each other," Forster said.

Lincoln Tsui, 26, who is seeking a PhD in Chinese history at Oxford, said he thinks the new building is beautiful.

Tsui said the construction of the building reflects the interest that the university's humanity and social sciences faculty places on Chinese studies. Also, it reflects a bigger presence of China at Oxford, "not just in student numbers, but investment and funding", he said.

Li Yao, a master's student of contemporary Chinese studies at Oxford, agreed.

"At Oxford, Chinese studies come under the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, which also covers studies of other areas in the world, like the Middle East, India, Latin America and others. The fact that we have a new China center shows that we have the funding for it," Li said.

Li, who completed a bachelor's degree in journalism in China before coming to Oxford for her master's studies, said she found the quality of Chinese studies at Oxford to be much higher than she expected.

"Here at Oxford, the quality of study we get is really first class, and I have learned a lot in my year at Oxford. I hope the new center will help many future students do well in their studies," said Li.