Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mandarin's All the Rage


In "Another Chinese Export Is All the Rage," Howard French writes at length about China's Confucius Institutes,

a global network of Chinese cultural centers, called Confucius Institutes, to teach foreigners throughout the world a language with a forbidding reputation for difficulty. But far from having to round people up, Ms. Xu is finding they are beating down her door.

"There is a China frenzy around the world at the moment," she said. "The launch of this program is in response to the Chinese language craze, especially in neighboring countries."

For decades, people in those countries have viewed China with deep suspicion. But now mastering Chinese as a door to lucrative business opportunities, or simply as a matter of popular fashion, is suddenly all the vogue - not only there but in the United States and Europe as well.

Just as new, though, is the decision of the Chinese government to ride the wave, not just capitalizing on the newfound chic that surrounds the language but also determined to perpetuate it as a way of extending Chinese international influence and good will toward the country.

See previous Beacon coverage of the Confucius Institutes here and of the PRC's aggressive courting of African elites here. I also discussed Joe Lieberman and Lamar Alexander's effort to increase U.S. education in Mandarin here.

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