Reasons to Learn the Chinese Language
Pēteris Pildegovičs, Latvian side Director of Confucius Institute at the University of Latvia:
'Our new generation will see China outrun the USA in terms of all main economic indicators. Therefore it is worth learning Chinese and getting to know about the culture of this country. In Riga, Chinese is taught at several educational institutions, whereas in Daugavpils and Rezekne we have been teaching Chinese for already three years. In the course of time it will be possible to learn Chinese in some other educational institutions. Countries all over the world fight for the possibility to obtain access to the Chinese market. Latvia in this competition is level with other countries. It is interesting that in Riga, which the Chinese consider to be the capital of the Baltic States, a large international meeting of the New Silk Road will take place in November. At this event the prime minister of China will meet with the heads of 16 countries of Eastern Europe. The geographical location of Latvia may become a good precondition for the development of cooperation with the countries of the region and China. Lately, I have been visiting China every year, and I have seen it for myself that now the communist party is more flexible than it was at the initial stage of this country's existence. China opens its embassies all over the world while different countries enter the Chinese market'.
Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova, Head of Confucius Centre at Riga Pauls Stradiņš University:
'Communication problems with China are being gradually solved since the number of the Chinese people speaking English is getting bigger. In many higher education institutions of China the Latvian language studies are subsidised. More and more inhabitants of Latvia learn the Chinese language. Learning this foreign language is also an outstanding exercise for the brain since it is based on pictograms rather than on pronunciation. The most difficult thing about learning Chinese for the representatives of many peoples is the fact that intonation plays a role in the formation of meaning. Since the same may be said about the Latvian language, learning the Chinese language comes natural to Latvians. When it comes to the achievements of our companies on the Chinese market, they will be determined by the initiative, success and use of advertising possibilities. Our country does a lot to inform the Chinese people about Latvian goods. The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia has offices both in Peking and Shanghai. Qualitative impression about the Latvian offer is created by the offer in the field of beauty and design. Unfortunately, the range of our food products in China's medium-priced stores is not so wide as that of Lithuania'.
Artis Kampars, Chairman of the Board of Latvia-China Business Council:
'Previous efforts to strengthen Latvia's economic relations with China were not sufficient enough. For the USA and top economies of the European Union, China is one of the most important commercial partners, whereas Latvia's trade links in this country are considerably weaker. We must learn to collaborate with China in terms of import, export and direct investments. When it comes to the GDP growth, China's efforts to outrun the USA and become the largest economy in the world become ever more substantial. The enormous market with the population of almost 1.4 billion people is their key strength. China absorbs the goods of the countries that come into its market as a vacuum cleaner'.
Ilze Vergina, Director of Smiltene Secondary School:
'At Smiltene Secondary School, the basic and secondary school students have had the possibility to learn Chinese as an elective for a long time. The language is complicated without doubt but the students are interested in it; therefore, it will be possible to learn Chinese this academic year, too. One of the aspects that the students find attracting is that while learning the language they also get to know about traditions, for instance, the culinary art, attend events organised by the Chinese embassy, etc. Learning Chinese is also valuable due to the fact that the students train their brain which is important both for the learning process in general and in terms of education and work after school leaving'.
• In November, Li Keqiang, current Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, will visit Latvia. During this visit it is planned that both parties will sign the agreement on strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the field of education and science.
• At present, Chinese may be studied at five universities of Latvia, whereas the Latvian language may be studied at three Chinese universities and China-Latvia Academic Collaboration Centre. Cooperation agreements regarding student exchange with China's universities have been concluded by the University of Latvia, Riga Technical University, Daugavpils University, Transport and Telecommunication Institute, and Riga Pauls Stradiņš University. At the beginning of 2015/2016 academic year, 27 students from China were studying at the Latvian higher education institutions.
You may read more detailed information about the Chinese language courses at Transport and Telecommunication Institute (TSI) here.
The original article was published in the newspaper Latvijas Avīze (13 September 2016).