Teach Chinese in Africa to beat Indian challenge: Daily

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Beijing, July 31 (IANS) Chinese language should be taught in African schools to overcome communication problems in Africa and to beat the challenge of Indian and Japanese businessmen, a Chinese daily has said.

One of the toughest challenges the Chinese face as they push for investment in African countries has been the cultural barrier, especially coping with language challenges, a report in the Global Times said.

As Africans and the Chinese don’t share a common language, it has led to miscommunication, “which in some cases has resulted in misunderstandings.

“In some countries, these misunderstandings have caused Chinese companies to lose investment opportunities,” said the report by Mark Kapchanga, a researcher and expert on China-Africa relations based in Nairobi.

In some cases, “this has been the root cause of unfounded remarks, particularly in rural areas in Africa, that the Chinese are in Africa to steal their resources and exploit Africa’s human resources”, it said.

To overcome the situation, many Chinese are studying African languages. This will significantly close the gap between the Chinese and locals.

“There is little doubt that when Chinese Africanize themselves, they will increase their bargaining power with local people, in addition to beating emerging cut-throat competition for opportunities, especially from Japanese and Indian businessmen who have shown huge appetite for investment and trade with African countries.

“Importantly, a common language will see Chinese successfully integrate with Africans.

It said the Beijing-based Communication University of China has taught Swahili for decades, and most of its students have ventured out to Africa, particularly in East African countries where they help to run Chinese businesses.

“By adopting African dialects, and even inter-marrying with local people, China is not only gaining support in the continent but also breaking the cultural barriers that had defeated its Asian counterparts, particularly the Indians and the Japanese.

“The biggest challenge ahead now is for the Chinese to take a step and start teaching Africans their language.

“Today, most Africans speak Western languages such as French, German and English, thanks to the colonialists. It is time, too, for the Chinese language to be inculcated in African countries’ education system.”

–IANS

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