JAKARTA, Indonesia - Visiting Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday broke into an Indonesian folk song after he was greeted with a warm "ni hao (hello)" from students of Al Azhar University in the country's capital.
While visiting the university's Chinese Language Center, Wen said exchanges of young people are the foundation and future of the friendship between the two countries.
Premier Wen Jiabao sings an Indonesian song called Ayo Mama with students who study Chinese literature at Al Azhar University in Jakarta on Friday. [Beawiharta / Reuters]
"We welcome students to come to China and learn with their brains, hearts and feet so as to be the bridge of the Sino-Indonesian friendship," Wen said.
After about 20 Indonesian girls presented Wen with a well-known Chinese poem of Tang Dynasty - Sailing Early from Baidi Town, the premier began to sing the traditional Indonesian song Ayo Mama to demonstrate that he was familiar with several aspects of Indonesian culture.
"I had come to know this country when I was very young and could hum the tune of such famous Indonesian folk songs as Buteh and Ayo Mama," Wen told Indonesian reporters ahead of his Southeast Asian tour.
Zuhal Abdul Kadir, president of the university, said the Chinese Language Center would be managed to enhance the mutual understanding of the two peoples.
As a partner with a number of Chinese universities, Al Azhar University set up the Chinese Language Center last year to provide Chinese language and culture courses.
China and Indonesia on Friday signed an agreement to boost Chinese-language education in the country, where the language had been censored for over 30 years during the rule of the second Indonesian president, Suharto.
Former president Abdurrahman Wahid began to lift the ban on Chinese culture right after taking office in 1999.
Xu Lin, director-general of Chinese Language Office, said more Indonesian young people, impressed by China's rapid economic growth, rushed to establish commercial contacts with Chinese businessmen.
"They are proud of doing business with Chinese and we have sent more than 100 Chinese teachers every year to Indonesia in the past five years but still cannot meet the demand of the local learners," Xu said.