Chinese Craze in Argentina

[Source]    People's Daily [Time]    2015-04-29 19:13:34 

Students of the Confucius Institute at the University of Buenos Aires practicing Chinese calligraphy (Xinhua News Agency)

A student from the National University of Rosario performing the dance Flying on Argentine Chinese Language Learner Talent Show held at Chinese Embassy in Argentina

Argentine students performing Taijiquan

Last July, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Argentina and upgraded Sino-Argentine relationship to overall strategic partnership. During the visit, the two countries signed a series of cooperative agreements in the fields of economy, science, technology and culture. This visit further stimulates Argentine people’s interest in China and enthusiasm towards Chinese language learning.

Young people stand out

In the Argentina-based office of CSR Qingdao Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co., the reporter was received by a lean Argentine young man, who introduced himself with standard and fluent Chinese. The man, José Luis or He Lu, his Chinese name, began to learn Chinese after graduating from a local university. Because of his outstanding performance in a Chinese language competition, he got the Chinese scholarship and studied in Liaoning Normal University for one year. After he returned home, his proficient Chinese enabled him to obtain a position at the Argentina-based office of CSR Qingdao Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. Due to his hard work, he was sent to Qingdao for a two-month training by the company. Now, He Lu has become the assistant of the office director and a young backbone in this company.

Unlike young people like He Lu, Regazzoni, Deputy Director for Education Bureau of Buenos Aires, has to study Chinese when holding a government post. “I fell in love with Chinese culture when I visited China several years ago. Immediately after I came back, I registered in a Chinese school and began to learn Chinese.” During one interview with him in his office, Regazzoni proudly showed a couple of his Chinese learning notebooks. They looked like the exercise books of Chinese elementary students at first sight, with stiff but careful handwriting. With the joint efforts of Regazzoni and Buenos Aires municipal government, the first Chinese-Spanish bilingual public school in South America was established in Argentina at the beginning of last year, which started teaching Chinese in elementary school. Early this year the second one opened.

Gao Ruina, or Karina Fiezzoni, became an international trade lawyer ten years ago and fell in love with China as she defended Chinese companies against anti-dumping. She studied in China for many years and even obtained a doctoral degree in law. With good command of two languages and strong expertise in the two countries’ laws, she is now a co-partner of a major law firm in Argentina and the director of its Chinese department. Because of her specialty in economic law and her knowledge of China, she was even invited by other countries to give lectures on how to develop economic relationship with China.

Cooperation spurs on to Chinese Craze

The new school year of Argentina started this March when the summer in the southern hemisphere ends. According to the statistics of Chinese Culture Association in Argentina, the number of students who enroll for Chinese lessons this year has increased at least by 30% over that of last year. At the Language Center of the University of Buenos Aires, more than 1,000 students are learning Chinese, whereas the number was 700 last year. “As the influence of Chinese culture grows, more people want to know about China, more enterprises are doing business with China and more talents of Chinese language are needed,” explained Roberto, director of the Language Center.

Another phenomenon that the language center has discovered is that people now begin learning Chinese at a younger age. Five year ago, Chinese language learners were mostly between 35 and 45, but now half of the learners between 18 and 30. “Young people, especially university students who major in economics and trade, realize that learning Chinese is of vital importance for their career prospects. They can find a position either in Argentine enterprises that are doing business with China or in Chinese enterprises that are investing in Argentina. The recent years are witnessing a growing number of Chinese enterprises in Argentina.”

“China is rapidly growing into a major global economy entity. The cooperation with China in trade and investment will create more high-quality job opportunities. A good command of Chinese equals to privilege in career competition,” said Bouzas, a professor of economics from the University of San Andres in Argentina.

By Fan Jianqing


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