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Will Mandarin Chinese replace English as the next world language?
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China spreads cultural influence through Mandarin

As China’s economic influence grows, so will its cultural influence. China is spreading Chinese culture and values through the spread of Mandarin language learning.


Recently, China has been extending its "soft power" through sharing a favorable view of Chinese language and culture. One example of China's "soft power" is through opening Confucius Institutes. The Confucius Institute is a Chinese cultural promotion organization that opens public educational partnerships between universities in China and elsewhere in the world. Confucius Institutes fund Chinese language and culture teaching in various places around the world for the purpose of cultural exchange and promoting mutual understanding between China and the world.[1]

The Argument

China has a rich cultural history. Countries outside of China have actively been interested in Chinese culture for much of China's history. For example, before the Industrial Revolution, Europeans were interested in and admired China's Confucianism. Japan and the kingdom of Ryukyu (modern-day Okinawa) were interested in Chinese religion, art, tea-drinking. The Japanese even found that learning Mandarin was important and interesting.[2] Today, the opening of Confucius Institutes (and economic investment) in countries in Africa are an example of China's growing "soft power." Young people in Uganda, East Africa, and Kenya enjoy learning Mandarin.[3] Students at a Confucius Institute in Senegal also report that through learning Mandarin, they come to appreciate Chinese culture. They find more reasons of how Senegalese and Chinese people are more similar and compatible to live with one another, more so than Europeans who settle in Senegal.[4] As China's "soft power" grows, so will the need and interest to learn Mandarin, especially in Africa.

Counter arguments

China's cultural influence may be growing, but other countries are still more powerful. The “China Adjacent Region” which includes Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, the rest of Southeast Asia, and India have a greater population and economic power than China.[5] Countries are wary of China's attempts to spread economic influence and attempt to police or even shut down Confucius Institutes (CI). CIs have been known to censor or gloss over issues such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, Tibet, or Taiwan.[6] Sweden, Germany, and the U.S. have shut down Confucius Institutes over possibilities of propaganda and conflict of interests.[7] Some Africans are critical of China's Confucius Institutes and see China's efforts to spread Mandarin as linguistic colonization—exactly what the British did in the colonization period.[8] In South and Southeast Asia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan have expressed concern and resentment about China's growing presence.[9] Though China's cultural influence is spreading through the spread of Mandarin, many countries are still wary of China's policies and intentions to dominate the global field. While China's attempts to extend its "soft power" through economic partnerships[10] are successful (particularly in Africa) its soft power campaign is limited by several factors including pollution, food safety, territorial disputes, and its authoritarian political system.[9]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020 at 07:24 UTC

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