By Victor Gotevbe, Editor-in-Chief
The Chinese economy has experienced astonishing growth in the last few decades which catapulted the country to become the second greatest economic power in the world. China is the most populous country on earth with Mandarin-Chinese as its official language, which begs the question as to when learning Mandarin will be mandatory for aspiring international business people worth their mettle.
Mandarin is undoubtedly the most popular language on earth. China’s population logically means Mandarin easily ranks as the most widely used language among native speakers. There are also millions of other native Chinese speakers living in Taiwan and around the world, who use the language to conduct their regular business affairs.
The continent of Africa is not left out, particularly Nigeria that has a huge number of industrious and enterprising people that have business connection with their Chinese counterparts.
Recently, Professor Wang Yongjing, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute, University of Lagos (UNILAG) disclosed in an interview with Diplomatic Watch that there are efforts underway to close in on the language barrier between business people from both Nigeria and China, when asked about what programme the Institute has for first time business visitors or those who seek less complex ways of doing business when they arrive in China.
She stated: “There is a big market in Lagos, named Alaba International Market. We discovered that many of the traders are dealing with Chinese business people. We want to set up a teaching site in that market so that the business people don’t have to come to UNILAG. They can study Mandarin in their own market. Our teachers can go twice a week if they like. Every three or four hours they can study the language”.
Developing a strong relationship with Chinese business partners usually precedes meeting at the official negotiating table, and is in many ways paramount to the deal itself. Learning to speak with Chinese in their native tongue always imparts a special advantage to anyone willing to learn language for the sake of business.
Professor Wang informed that in 2018, her Institute organized a teaching course for 40 Nigerian Immigration officials. Presently, another batch of 40 officials are doing same, most of them she observed work at the airport. She said the Immigration Officers on first contact with several Chinese people can apply Mandarin to them on arrival at the Port of entry. She further revealed that setting up a stand in the airport to help the Chinese people or Chinese business people or whoever comes to work in Nigeria, is in the pipeline.” By so doing, it will aid them to get their visa seamlessly upon arrival and or help them to contact their Nigerian business partners”
Anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to the global economic climate will know that right now, China is going from strength to strength. Therefore, there is a need to learn common Mandarin business phrases and understand Chinese culture so that entrepreneurs can communicate professionally in the largest market in the world.