Chinese Craze Spreads Among Cambodians

[Source] [Time]    2018-01-24 09:12:12 

Learning Chinese seems to have turned into a craze among Cambodians in recent years with high demand in several sectors stirring up the industry.

A Li, a full-time driver and bodyguard for the general manager of Zhongyuan Construction Company in Cambodia, can speak fluent Cantonese, winning the admiration of his local colleagues. On chatting with a journalist from China News Service,he expressed that he has been learning Cantonese through conscious listening and speaking since the first day he started working as a driver for his Chinese boss Ling Zhijie 20 years ago. Now, communication with his boss has reached effortlessness.

A Li said that it is not until recently that he realized that Cantonese spoken by his boss is not the official language of China, and with the influx of Chinese entrepreneurs in his country, learning China’s official language, Mandarin, has to be done from scratch.

Suos Yara, Member of Parliament of Cambodia and Vice Chairman of the Commission for the International Relations of the Cambodian People's Party, expressed that the annual growth of Cambodia-China trade averaged 26% in the past 10 years and bilateral trade volume reached US$ 4.8 billion in 2016. At Cambodia-China Business Talk and Signing Ceremony this month, Song Xianmao, Commercial Counselor of the Foreign Trade Department of Chinese Ministry of Commerce expressed that China is the largest source country of foreign investment for Cambodia and by October 2017, China’s contracted investment in Cambodia has amounted to US$ 12.57 billion, accounting for 36.4% of the total foreign investment in Cambodia.

It is noted that China is Cambodia’s largest trading partner and Chinese enterprises in Cambodia create a large amount of jobs for the local people. Landing a job in Chinese enterprises in the country by virtue of fluent spoken Mandarin is an ideal career orientation for the local people. In a Chinese school in Phnom Penh, Ms Li, a teacher from Guangxi Autonomous Region said that her students are from different age groups and some of them are college graduates. Their purpose in learning Chinese language comes down to finding a well-paid job in a Chinese company.

A sales manager of a large real-estate project in Phnom Penh spoke bluntly that, considering that 80% of the houses in the project are sold to Chinese people, being unable to speak Chinese meant poor sales performance and fewer commissions. She claimed to be a Chinese Cambodian as her father is a member of the third generation of overseas Chinese and her mother is a Cambodian. She said that she could not speak Chinese well several years ago. Upon finding out that Chinese enterprises in Cambodia have a high demand for translators and interpreters, she insisted on her family members to speak Chinese. Although she had changed jobs in different Chinese companies and her salary in a new company exceeding the previous one each time, she expressed that her written Chinese still remains to be improved.

The owner of a shop on Preah Monivong Blvd is also a member of the third generation of overseas Chinese, whose 3 children have to study Chinese in the morning, Cambodian in the afternoon and English in the evening. The shop owner said it is of great importance for the children to learn Chinese and Cambodian well so that they can earn a living in Chinese enterprises.

Cambodian authorities also took corresponding measures in the wake of the Chinese craze. On August 12th, 2009, the Confucius Institute at Royal Academy of Cambodia was founded and Chinese classes are offered at several Cambodian government departments.

By now the Confucius Institute has more than 10,000 students, 3 Confucius Classrooms and 23 teaching sites, covering 9 cities and provinces in Cambodia. It has become one of the largest Confucius Institutes in the world in terms of school running scale and an important platform for Chinese language teaching and cultural exchanges.

Liu Zhen, Director of the Confucius Classroom at Angkor High School, said that the Confucius Institute offers free Chinese classes for officials as well as a large number of motorcycle drivers, taxi drivers and souvenir vendors in Siem Reap. Liu also expressed that the income of the businessmen who can speak Chinese increased by almost 40% compared with that in the past.

(Story by Huang Yaohui, China News Agency, Phnom Penh, January 18th, 2018)


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