China In London
In the 1960's people used to talk about the Iron Curtain. That has now gone, hopefully forever, but at the same time people used to say "yes but beware of the 'Silk Curtain". Even then they knew that China would be the next great participant in the global economy and the fear was that they may overtake the Western countries with their progress.
In a way they were right, but in a way although China is still a Communist country, there is a feeing of optimism about China becoming part of theGlobal integration. They are providing us with all sorts of new opportunities and ideas and employment. Whole departments of famous British automotive and engineering companies have happily moved to China to share their knowledge and expertise. We are glad that much of China will be part of the world's affluent, instead of being pushed back into being a large part of the world's poor. We know that there are injustices there and exploitation, but surely much less than in some other parts of the world.
Now our Mayor, Mr Livingstone plans to recruit teachers from China to help London children learn Mandarin. This must surely be one of his better ideas. He believes we must capitalise on the burgeoning Chinese economy. There will be huge numbers of visitors from China to London over the next few years possibly 100 million by 2020.
Mandarin is a very difficult language and the best time to learn a second language is when you're very young. By 2020 we should have many bilingualEnglish/ Chinese speakers, which will be an enormous benefit both to those learning to speak the language and those who are involved in the tourist, education and business sectors.
One of the wonderful qualities of the Chinese is their curiosity and desire to know about matters outside their own experience and they will no doubt come to London to see its famous landmarks and learn about its long and extraordinary history.
Let's hope these plans come to successful fruition. He also has India in his sights.
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Jane Merrow is the owner of www.languagejobs4u.com, a multilingual jobsite offering Recruiters and multilingual Jobseekers the opportunity to find each other online. She has many years’ experience in the multilingual recruitment area.