University of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett has been awarded an Individual Performance Excellence award by the People’s Republic of China.
The award recognises outstanding personal service to increasing the understanding of Chinese language, peoples and culture and reflects an exceptional contribution to enhancing educational and business links between the UK and China.
The honour was presented by Vice Premier Liu Yandong at the 11th annual global conference of the Confucius Institute in Kunming in China – an international gathering of Confucius Institute leaders from around the world who share a common commitment to increasing understanding of Chinese language and culture.
It is the second time Sir Keith has received this award, marking an unusual recognition of his efforts to build closer educational and business links between the UK and China.
Sir Keith is the Chair of the Sheffield Confucius Institute which has twice been named a Global Confucius Institute of the Year and which undertakes a wide range of Chinese language and culture teaching in the city’s schools, as well as holding cultural events and working closely with local companies and health providers to strengthen partnership and trade opportunities with China.
Sir Keith is also a founder of the Sheffield China Gateway scheme which is being developed by partners across the city to support inward investment and Chinese businesses, students and individuals who wish to visit, live or work in Sheffield.
Responding to the award, Sir Keith said: ‘It is a tremendous privilege to be honoured by China in this way and it means a great deal to me personally as I have exceptional colleagues and friends in China. I also want to acknowledge the crucial role of the Sheffield Confucius Institute which is ably led by Dr Lucy Zhao and all its work for Sheffield students, schools and businesses.
“Over recent years, I have been privileged to witness growing partnerships between the UK and China through our work with partner universities in crucial areas such as health, science and engineering. We have tremendous links in the latest areas of technological innovation and computing and we even recently announced that we would be working with the Chinese space programme on the space station they plan to launch in 2020.”
China and its people will be crucial to the future of the world, and it is essential for our University, students, city and nation to have the best possible access to understanding Chinese language and culture – Sir Keith Burnett
He added: “But, we also work together to understand the needs of people, society and culture. This is just as important. All commentators agree that China and its people will be crucial to the future of the world, and it is essential for our University, students, city and nation to have the best possible access to understanding Chinese language and culture.”