Blossoming Chinese Language (New Discussion-Highlighting “Belt and Road Initiative”)

[Source]    People’s Daily [Time]    2017-05-17 15:33:47 

Amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states. In the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, people-to-people bonds via language communication are becoming increasingly important. Through languages, we can strengthen mutual understanding of culture and lay a solid social foundation for policy coordination, facilities' connectivity, unimpeded trade, and financial integration.

Since ancient times, smooth trade has been depending on language communication. In the era of economic globalization, language is also a sign of a nation’s soft power. At present, Chinese has become a catalyst for the Belt and Road Initiative and cultural bonds for all the peoples on its route. As an increased interest in learning Chinese is beginning to sweep the Belt and Road countries, 134 Confucius Institutes and 130 Confucius classrooms in elementary and secondary schools have been established in 51 of these countries, where students enrolled in Chinese classes had reached 460,000 by 2016, according to statistics. Nearly 8,000 cultural activities have been held, with 2.7 million participants. In the next few years, Confucius Institutes will be set up in virtually every “Belt and Road” country. In the future, apart from introducing traditional Chinese culture, these institutes will enhance their communication with the local people, disseminate China’s law culture, enterprise culture, and family culture, and provide targeted cultural services to promote the understanding of China.

“Belt and Road” Photo Exhibition held by Confucius Institute at Angeles University Foundation

To enhance people-to-people bonds, language functions should serve as a medium to exchange information and facilitate understanding of China for the locals. While promoting the Chinese language, Chinese people should also learn languages pertaining to Belt and Road countries. Although we can use international languages such as English, Russian, and Arabic, it is easier to have heart-to-heart talks with the local people in their mother tongues. Close ties among people of different nations can be achieved thorough communication with the local people so as to gain their understanding and support for the initiative. People-to-people bonds can enhance connectivity and win-win cooperation among these countries, and facilitate the construction of a community of shared future, destiny and responsibility that features mutual political trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness.

Someone once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head; if you talk to a man in his language, that goes to his heart.” The Belt and Road Initiative involves almost 3 billion people and 60 countries, which vastly differ in history, culture, and social system. When interacting with these countries, Chinese people need to use local languages to voice their opinions in accordance with the principle of wide consultation, joint construction and shared benefits so as to minimize misunderstandings about China and to strengthen people-to-people bonds.

The faculty and students visiting the Confucius Institute at Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University

With great charm and functions, languages can express both meanings and emotions. They play an important role in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative by eliminating barriers in communication and connecting the peoples’ hearts. Through languages, people can enhance relationship and mutual trust, and have better cultural exchanges so as to promote mutual learning among different civilizations as well as better inherit and carry on the Silk Road spirit.

(The author is an associate professor from the School of International Relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University)

(Story by Yang Yi, People’s Daily, May 15th, 2017, Page 13)


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