On June 2, the Ministry of Education (MOE) held a press conference on the development and use of the Chinese language. A series of reports were released, including Language Situation in China (2021), Language Situation in the World, the Language Situation in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Report on the Development of Chinese Language, and the Report on China’s Language Policies.
In 2020, 80.72% of China's population spoke Mandarin Chinese (or Putonghua), up 27.66 percentage points from 2000, meeting the target set in the Thirteen Five-Year-Plan. To promote the use of Mandarin Chinese, authorities have established 60 language promotion bases, including a base in Peking University. The training and testing system for the national common language was further improved. Nearly 5.28 million people on the Chinese mainland have so far taken the Putonghua proficiency test, and nearly 40,000 people took the proficiency test for the use of written Chinese in 2020.
Languages played a powerful role in the fight against COVID-19 in 2020. Under the guidance of the MOE and the State Language Commission, a language service group was jointly established by higher educational institutions, scholars and experts and enterprises to help combat the virus. Outcomes included multi-media products to translate Hubei dialects into standard Mandarin or translate standard Mandarin into foreign languages. They helped medical teams better communicate with local or foreign patients and provide safety tips and guidance to foreigners living in China.
The MOE also set up the Center for Language Education and Cooperation to promote the learning of Chinese language in foreign countries. By the end of 2020, Mandarin Chinese was taught in over 180 countries/regions across the world, more than 70 countries had included the teaching of Mandarin Chinese in their national curricula, and over 20 million people outside of China were learning Chinese. Online learning of Chinese language has also seen vigorous growth. An online learning platform named “Chinese Plus” offers over 6,000 lessons in 190 courses on Chinese language and Chinese culture, attracting more than 2 million foreign learners. Chinese language is playing a bigger role in the world. From 2021, Chinese has formally become an official language of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Furthermore, the MOE also publish a Russian version of Language Situation in China, hoping to boost the global presence of the Chinese language.
Attendees to the event included Zhou Wei, director-general of Department of Language Application and Administration, Liu Hong, deputy director-general of Department of Language Application and Administration and Guo Xi, visiting professor at Guangzhou University. Chen Xing, director of the News Division of MOE’s General Office, served as the moderator.