ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In an official ceremony on Tuesday, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research announced the establishment of a Chinese language program at Salahuddin University in Erbil.
“In a scientific step toward opening up to the world and becoming familiar with the history and culture of China, the Chinese language department in Salahuddin will be the only one in Kurdistan and Iraq where students can attain a Bachelor's degree in the Chinese language,” Minister Aram Mohammed told those in attendance.
Several Kurdish scholars and officials showed up for the event, including the deputy speaker of the Kurdistan parliament. Chinese Consul General in Erbil Ni Ruchi participated in the traditional cutting of the ribbon to mark the program's official start.
“We are hoping that this step will help to strengthen ties between Kurdistan Region and the People’s Republic of China,” added Mohammed, adding, “We will work to establish cooperation and coordination in the pursuit of higher education between the universities in China and Kurdistan Region.”
After a meeting in late September, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Ruchi confirmed that Peking University would open a Kurdish language department in the near future. It will be included in the study year of 2019-2020, with 18 students already having been accepted.
China opened its Consulate General in Erbil on Dec. 30, 2014, at a time where the so-called Islamic State was on the rise in northern Iraq.
Diplomatic relations between Iraq and China were established on Aug. 25, 1958. The alliance went relatively smoothly for decades but was complicated by the Gulf War in 1991 and then again during events leading up to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. Relations have stabilized in the years that have followed and continue to grow.
Editing by John J Catherine