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Mandarin fever in Pakistan


14:43, March 14, 2013

The fascination in Chinese culture is growing around the world. In yet another example, more Pakistani students are choosing to learn Mandarin. Their enthusiasm for the language is not just personal interest -- it's also a practical view of the future.

These Pakistani schoolchildren are singing to a new tune: Chinese.

The demand for Mandarin language lessons is growing, with many Pakistanis seeing their future tied to China rather than the US or Europe.

"I learn Chinese language because Pakistani-China friendship is well and because we're friends, Pakistan and China, and because Chinese is the most upcoming language in the world and China is the most upcoming country in the whole world now."

This school in Islamabad started Mandarin lessons two years ago for children as young as 12. If everything goes well the formula will soon be rolled out in 200 colleges across Pakistan. But the plan isn't without its problems.

"In Pakistan we have nowadays 6,000 students learning Chinese language but we have only 50 chinese teachers, so we don't have enough teachers. Sometimes Pakistan is told difficult, not difficult, dangerous, so not many people want to come here, want to work here."

Pakistanis used to look to the US and UK for university studies -- but since the 9/11 attacks, it's become harder to get a visa and many say they're treated with suspicion. In contrast, China provides a warm welcome. And because it's cheaper, there are opportunities not just for the rich, but also the middle and lower-middle classes.

"China is more friendly to us than the UK. They help us a lot. They have stood by us Pakistanis whenever we needed them."

And the relationship between the two countries is growing.

"China and Pakistan are good neighbours, true friends, true brothers and good partners. You can see : it has been 60 years that China established relationship with Pakistan, and we always support each other. "

Around 8,000 Pakistani students are already studying in China. Thousands more are now preparing to join them.

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