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English speakers talk global
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08:18, April 14, 2008

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For a passionate speech warning China must be more innovative to fully benefit from globalization, Beijing Foreign Studies University student Zhao Xinyan was yesterday named winner of the 13th "21st Century Lenovo Cup" National English Speaking Competition.

The Jiangsu province native also won the "Most Promising Speaker" title, meaning she will represent China at the International Public Speaking competition in London next month.

The 19-year-old beat 25 other contestants from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan province, and Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to claim the coveted prize. All of the contestants in the grand final at Beijing's Friendship Hotel delivered a short speech on "Living with globalization".

"It is really unexpected; I am only a second-year student and didn't give much thought to winning," Zhao said. "Maybe that is one of the reasons I could remain focused and win the prize."

In her speech to the 1,000 audience members and 12 judges, Zhao said it was essential Chinese enterprises moved from a "made-in-China" to a "created-in-China" culture.

"China can only gain a cutting edge in the global arena if our enterprises move up the value chain and we create products of our own," she said.

Many contestants expressed similar views about globalization's merits. The consensus was that it provides an opportunity for China to develop economically, but more must be done to prevent the erosion of traditional Chinese culture.

Huang Qing, managing editor of China Daily and one of the final's judges, said Zhao stood out because of her "convincing storytelling". She also demonstrated "superior general knowledge, and then, obviously, her language ability made her special", Huang added.

Zhao edged out first runner-up Wei Liwei from Tsinghua University and second runner-up Jiang Chunhui from Ningbo University, who both won two-week study tours in Britain.

Competition judge Samantha Granger from the British Council praised all of the contestants' performances.

"I think the standard has been exceptionally high," she said. "They all showed coherence and fluency."

With the contest's emphasis on cultural exchange, two guest speakers from South Korea and Thailand were also invited to join the competition.

Sebastian Muench, from Thailand, said coming to China had been a "fantastic experience" and he had been impressed by the standard of the Chinese presenters. "I think they can all speak wonderful English," he said.

Su Yi from East China Normal University won the BBC award for best impromptu speech, earning a two-week internship at BBC's studios in London.

Source: China Daily

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