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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2007
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Troy to get Confucius Institute

TROY (AP) — Troy University has joined the list of American universities getting a Confucius Institute, which state officials expect will boost ties between Alabama and one of its biggest trading partners.

Gov. Bob Riley and Troy Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. announced the creation of the Confucius Institute at Troy while on a trade mission in Beijing on Thursday.

The nonprofit center, slated to open in 2008, will expand Chinese language and cultural education, provide business and industry ties to China and expand use of the state's distance learning program to teach Chinese in high school language classes.

"The Confucius Institute is an important step in the continued internationalization of Troy University. It will promote the understanding of Chinese language, history and culture to the students we teach and the communities we serve," Hawkins said in China.

The Office of China Language Council International, the government office that administers the Confucius Institutes, has developed institutes in 31 nations. Locations in the U.S. include Valparaiso University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Kansas, University of Iowa and University of Massachusetts.

Each institute has a Chinese university serving as a host. For Troy, Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology will fill that role.

Troy already offers courses in Mandarin Chinese, and these courses will be expanded in the Institute's first year of operation, the university said in a news release.

A pilot Chinese I course offered online this year to high school students through the state's distance learning program has 12 students and in January plans are being made offer it via videoconference.

Alabama has 2,200 companies that export goods and services to China. In 2005, the latest year with complete statistics available, China was the state's fifth largest export market with $467 million in trade.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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