More than 30 million people in the world are learning Chinese as a foreign language through various ways, said a Chinese-language teaching official.
"With China's rapidly growing economy and increasing international exchanges, value of the Chinese language is rising constantly," Ma Jianfei, deputy director of the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOTCFL), said here Tuesday.
"Learning Chinese is gaining a tool to engage in friendly exchanges with 1.3 billion Chinese people and the key to enter an important and vast market in the world," he said on the eve of the World Chinese Conference.
According to the office, more than 2,500 universities in 100 countries are teaching Chinese as a foreign language.
The Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan and France boast the biggest number of learners of Chinese as a foreign language in the world, judging from the number of participants in the Chinese language proficiency test.
Ma said in the United States, the number of Chinese language learners is growing the fastest compared with learners of other foreign languages.
Of the more than 3,000 universities in the United States, nearly 800 have opened Chinese language courses. Thanks to joint programs between the two countries, Chinese language courses will also enter large numbers of primary and high schools in the United States, he said.
In Asia, according to the office, there are 1.6 million Chinese language learners in the areas of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Chinese language courses are offered in nearly 200 universities in the ROK. There are 2 million learners of Chinese language in Japan.
Chinese language is most popular in France among European countries, with the language also gaining popularity in other European countries.
The number of Chinese language learners is growing fast in Africa. A major TV company in South Africa has began to broadcast Chinese language teaching program to the whole country.
Nearly 600 people, including 353 overseas delegates from 66 countries or regions, will attend the World Chinese Conference to be opened in Beijing on Wednesday. It is the first international conference on Chinese language ever held in China.