HAVANA, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Cuba hosted a Chinese Bridge language proficiency contest on Wednesday, featuring seven local students of Chinese.
Students enrolled at the Confucius Institute in Havana demonstrated their language skills, as well as their knowledge of China's history and culture.
Sponsored by the institute, in conjunction with the University of Havana and China's Ministry of Education, the contest aims to promote cultural ties between the East Asian country and other regions of the world.
Following three competitive rounds in which students demonstrated their verbal and grammatical skills, and familiarity with Chinese customs and culture, Diana Blanco was declared the winner.
"I'm really excited about winning this contest because studying Chinese is very important in my life," said Blanco, currently an intermediate-level student.
"I am grateful to the jury and the professors of the Confucius Institute for selecting me as the winner and I will continue to deepen my knowledge of the language," she added.
During the competition, Blanco related a tale about her dreams, correctly answered history, grammar and general knowledge questions, and recited a poem, all in Chinese.
China's ambassador to Cuba, Chen Xi, was on hand to present the award, which includes an invitation to travel to Beijing as Cuba's contestant in the international Chinese Bridge competition.
Fellow intermediate-level students Deborah Velazco and Jessica Jaime came in second and third place, respectively, with performances that earned them the praise of the public and the jury.
Chen congratulated the contestants on their high level of language proficiency and artistic interpretations.
"Language is an instrument for communication and for developing cooperation, and in this sense it is important that many more Cubans learn Chinese to deepen our relations more fluidly," said the diplomat.
Chen also highlighted the work carried out since 2008 by the Confucius Institute, where hundreds of Cubans have studied Chinese.
"Every day, more and more Cubans are interested in studying the Chinese language and it is largely a result of the successful work of the Confucius Institute, which strives for more people to learn Chinese every year," he said.
More than 100 million people around the world study Chinese, allowing Beijing to better strengthen its economic, trade and cultural ties with different nations, said Chen.
The diplomat also thanked the Cuban government for its cooperation since 2006 in offering more than 3,000 scholarships to young Chinese students keen to study Spanish in the island.