The first center devoted to the study of Mexican culture in Asia was inaugurated Thursday by representatives of the Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, and Beijing's University of Foreign Studies, an important collaborative education project that coincides with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Participating at the ceremony inaugurating the center on the campus of the Beijing university were officials from the two institutions, who emphasized the long tradition of cultural exchanges between the two nations, of which they said the new center is one more example.

"China must not open itself up to one specific zone of the world or to a single language," the head of the Chinese university, Han Zhen, told Efe, referring to the domination on occasion of the Anglo-Saxon culture in teaching.

"We've launched this study center not only for joint cooperation, but also because of our country's development needs," Han said.

The director of the new center, located next to the university's Spanish language classrooms, will be Guillermo Pulido, who after emphasizing "the great privilege" he considers his appointment to be, said that the new center will offer classes, conferences and workshops as well as linguistic research opportunities, all of these being activities that could be expanded to other Chinese universities and be pursued in cooperation with other Spanish-speaking countries.

The center began its initial activities weeks before its official inauguration, and these have included a series of conferences on the Maya calendar, in which the year 2012 represents the end of an era that some have interpreted as heralding the "end of the world." EFE