The Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield’s University has been recognised for ‘outstanding personal service’ in raising awareness of the Chinese language, peoples and culture.
Professor Sir Keith Burnett has been presented with the Individual Performance Excellence award, a national honour presented by the People’s Republic of China.
It was presented by Vice Premier Liu Yandong at the annual global conference of the Confucius Institute in Kunming in China on Saturday. And, unusually, this is the second such honour that Sir Keith has received.
“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,” he said, acknowledging in particular the “crucial” role of the Sheffield Confucius Institute led by Dr Lucy Zhao.
Sir Keith is the chairman of the institute here which has twice been named a Global Institute of the Year and which undertakes teaching in the city’s schools, as well as holding cultural events and working to strengthen partnership and trade opportunities.
He is also a founder of the Sheffield China Gateway scheme supporting inward investment and stronger links for businesses and individuals who wish to visit, live or work in Sheffield.
“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,” he said.
“We have tremendous links in the latest areas of technological innovation and computing. 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.”