Estimated 70% Of China’s Population Can Now Speak National Language: Mandarin

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

More Chinese able to speak the national language

CHINA has managed to raise the proportion of the population able to speak the national language, Mandarin, but still faces difficulty in remote areas and places where ethnic minorities live, China News Service said yesterday.

As of the end of last year, more than 70 percent of the population could speak Mandarin, compared with 53 percent at the end of the last century, the agency said, citing the education ministry.

The ministry believes that with greater urbanization and more young people moving into cities, areas that are weak in Mandarin abilities, mostly remote places and areas with lots of ethnic minorities, the level will continue to rise, the news agency said.

It hopes to have “basic” national coverage for the language by 2020, it added.

Some officials have previously said that the country was too large and had too few resources to get all of its 1.3 billion people to speak Mandarin.

China has been promoting Mandarin for decades to ensure national cohesion in a country where there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dialects, as well as ethnic minority languages like Tibetan and Uygur.

But some dialects, such as Cantonese and Hokkien, enjoy strong regional support even if there is little official backing for their use.

Lack of money also means that some schools in poorer, more remote areas have to use teachers whose own Mandarin skills may not be up to par.

In the Chinese mainland Mandarin is referred to as Putonghua or “common speech,” while in Taiwan it is called Guoyu, or “nation”.