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Is learning Mao's tongue our only hope?

Updated on May 1, 2015

Chinese or no Chinese? That is the question

'' Wo hen gaoxing renshi ni!'', or "Please to meet you" in Mandarin, is a phrase commonly said nowadays by Westerners in business with the Chinese. We bow to greet them, exchange gifts to 'show respect' and drink tea during meetings. All these methods are a way of showing that we not only want to do business with the second biggest economy on Earth, but that we treat them as 'friends' and close partners. Is it ridiculous? Should we be, as we seem to be, changing our ways to accommodate China's impressive rise to the top of the world stage? To answer these questions, a short trip into the past is in order.

Back in the good old days, when Europe ruled the rooster and was considered, from the eyes of the world, as the epicenter of power, wealth, culture and trade, states around the world learnt the English language. Considered to be the sole language of the world for practicing business and international affairs, learning it was a means to an end. Without it, doing business was almost impossible. Sure, you would find interpreters willing to translate from -whatever- to English and English to -whatever- but that wasn't a recipe for sound business-making. Indeed, trade is inherently different to, say, international diplomacy because here you are not only cooperating on something for the duration of a session, you're actually going into long-term business with people. That involves not only bargaining, but trust, friendliness and mutual understanding.

Just like in everything, the peoples of the world had to bow down to the biggest names - in this case for commercial purposes - if they wanted a slice of the cake. Today, the cake is baked in China and India and Brazil but not so much in Europe and the West. To get a slice of the richly-baked cake, it's not enough to bring your knife and fork and except to be dished a plate. One has to conform to the new players, play by their rules, and yield the benefits. Learning Chinese is the best way of accommodating this necessary change in mentality because by speaking the same lingo we're not only making communication easier, we are opening up a whole range of possibilities like, for example, ensuring a better outcome on business deals.

It is my strong advice to you to start dishing out your savings in intensive Chinese language courses; as well as learning what is a fantastically interesting language, you are actually giving yourself a shot at a better future. So come on folks, clear your bookshelf, throw out your old latin textbooks, slip on your chinese gown and get cracking on those chinese books. Before long, you'll be speaking it like a native. Hao bu hao??

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    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 

      3 years ago from USA

      Indeed, diplomacy is not my language since it is proper to hypocrites.

      United Kingdom? Not for long, hopefully... Isn't the Island starting its partition yet? After all if Iraq can do it, why not the British empire, to be more precise since you are insisting on the appropriate term...

      England was a realistic view of your country...

      That's true ! Your banks are not corrupt. That's true England is experiencing an economic growth, no unemployment...

    • Alexanderjwright profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander James Wright 

      3 years ago from Brussels, London, Shanghai

      If you want to talk of arrogance, I would duly like to point out that your comments are as far from "critical thinking" as I am from finding Elvis on Mars. England is not a country, it forms part of the United Kingdom so I suggest YOU "go and check" your history books as you subtely pointed out.

      I doubt we will collapse economically as a result of "following you like a doggy" but anyway, I won't argue with you on that - you can figure that one out for yourself.

      Last paragraph isn't even worth debating - if you want to make a case that colonization was bad, then you should aim your comments to all countries who took part in it. You don't see me destroying the Germans for what happened during the 1st and 2nd WW, nor do you see me say anything about US shambles in Afghanistan.

      Diplomacy, it appears, is a language you're not too familiar with

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 

      3 years ago from USA

      Since you can't on your own see that I made a mistake, it seems to me that your critical thinking is quite limited.

      As you are short of argumentation, you, as most of the people on their defensive use metaphoric parables to belittle critical thinking.

      When England will economically collapse as a result of following like a doggy our policy, I will smile thinking of you and your arrogance.

      England is not what it used to be, is it?

      And, China will proudly remember the days its boxers kicked out the English parasites that sucked out their wealth, that drugged its population, that stole its technology... Go and check your history books...

    • Alexanderjwright profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander James Wright 

      3 years ago from Brussels, London, Shanghai

      I don't know what they put in your porridge this morning but as far as I'm concerned, you were saying the EXACT opposite in your previous comment - now you're backtracking claiming that the US is numero uno - are you that confused?

      Vicious attacks about Britain's historical tendencies will bring you nowhere. Oh, and incidentally, I consider the United States as the UK's proudest creation ;)

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 

      3 years ago from USA

      Seen with your "Atlantist" prism, indeed the US is number one unfortunately for you, educated people know better. The economy is declining, its currency is rejected, its employment rate is dangerously slowing down and, you dare telling us that China is numero uno? Now, if you want to comfort yourself in lies, be my guest, but don't pretend to enlighten us. But I guess, it comes from your ethnic background... The English to the example of the US always thought they were superior. Now they know they are not. Or maybe they knew they were not therefore they imposed so much barbarism in the world. Is it too hard for you to follow?

      If you praised China why is your title tendentious, why ranging China in an undeserved 2nd position as an economical power? China's economy just slowed down, I can't say the same concerning the US.

    • Alexanderjwright profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander James Wright 

      3 years ago from Brussels, London, Shanghai

      And incidentally - the whole point of this article was to praise China's rapidly rising economy and to push people to learn the language. So all you're doing is picking out one "mistake", technical detail, and diving for it like a shark to its prey. Weishenme ne??

    • Alexanderjwright profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander James Wright 

      3 years ago from Brussels, London, Shanghai

      abuse won't bring you anywhere old sausage. I know a great deal more than you about China - since I both speak the language and studied its history - but go ahead if it makes you feel better :) I'm not going to debate on technicality - the US is numero uno, and China is still developing - need only look at GDP per capita. End of point.

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 

      3 years ago from USA

      It became first few months ago... Some updating is required when you write. If you don't see my point then you should go back to your history books, shouldn't you?

    • Alexanderjwright profile imageAUTHOR

      Alexander James Wright 

      3 years ago from Brussels, London, Shanghai

      I don't get this point at all - what are you trying to say?

      And no, my friend, they are NOT the first economic power

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 

      3 years ago from USA

      Since you compared the English influence versus the Chinese, let me remind you that the English did business with their military power as the example of its li'l sister America whereas Chinese are establishing a real partnership with their economic interlocutors.

      And, by the way, China is the first economic power.

      Xiexie.

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