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Ambassador Zheng Zheguang: Three hopes for students and enthusiasts of Chinese language

At the 20th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition UK Regional Final, Ambassador Zheng said that China is both ancient and young and the Chinese civilization stays committed to its finest traditions and keeps making new innovations. He emphasized that language was a vehicle of civilization and a bridge of communication, and expressed his three hopes for students and enthusiasts of the Chinese language.

He hoped they could come together to appreciate the beauty of the language. “Chinese is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. It is the crystallization of a culture of several thousand years”, he said. There is much more to it than just words and expressions, for example, the artistry of its characters, the elegance of its structure and the charm of its tones and rhythm, just to name a few. Learning the Chinese language is a process of appreciating and the profound culture that it embodies, and understanding the culture of a nation is the key to understanding its past, present and future.

Zheng also hoped that students and enthusiasts of the Chinese language could come together to build a bridge of friendship. China and the United Kingdom both have time-honoured history and splendid culture, and both are countries of global significance. The exchanges and cooperation between the two countries cover a wide range of areas. There is no denying that the two countries have different history, culture and social systems, and they are at different development stages. But this only highlights the need for better mutual understanding between the peoples so as to avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment. I hope more and more young people from both our two countries will learn the language of each other, become goodwill ambassadors and build bridges for communication. This is where the hope of China-UK relations lies.

Today in China about 400 million people are learning English, which is a compulsory course in most primary and secondary schools. The UK government also attaches importance to the teaching of the Chinese language by introducing special policy incentives. The Mandarin Excellence Programme of the UK Department for Education, for example, supports close to 7,000 primary and secondary school students. There are also 30 Confucius Institutes and 164 Confucius classrooms across the United Kingdom, with 130,000 registered students.

“It is my hope that as you try to master the Chinese language, you will make more Chinese friends, learn more about the country and help to build a broader bridge for mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples”, Zheng said.

Zheng hoped people could come together to create a better future for the whole world. Globalisation has brought unprecedented progress as well as unforeseen challenges to mankind. The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 reminds us once again that mankind has the same planet to call home and the same future to embrace. Be it addressing the challenges of global public health, or tackling climate change and preserving bio-diversity, no country can do it alone. The world must work together.

“If Chinese-speakers and English-speakers around the world work together to deal with global challenges, we can certainly make greater contribution to world peace and prosperity”, Zheng said.

He encouraged the students to not only work on language skills but also have a broader vision, a bigger heart and bigger dreams, and think about the major issues that concern the shared future of mankind. He expressed the hope that the young people in the UK will step up exchanges and cooperation with their peers from China and other countries, and work together to make contribution to a better world and a brighter future for mankind.

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