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Language, Cultural Understanding Key to Belt, Road Initiative

发布时间:2017-05-11 10:10:31   来源:    浏览次数:

BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Linguists have lauded China's strategy to intensify study of languages of neighboring countries and border areas to pave the way for the implementation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Studying the languages and cultures of neighboring countries and border areas plays a key role in the implementation of China's ambitious economic vision, said Li Yuming, former deputy director of the State Language Commission and Party chief of Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU).

The strategy has been high on China's agenda since the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, which include a series of international trade and infrastructure projects, were proposed by President Xi Jinping in fall of 2013.

The Belt and Road bring together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe over an area that is home to 1,000 languages and dialects.

Since ancient times, the route has not only been a trade channel, but also a path of cultural exchange. Xi has stressed the connection of both trade and culture along the route.

Li said although English can be an effective language in Belt and Road countries, the languages used by local people are necessary to gain a better understanding of people and their cultures.

However, he said the number of people proficient in Mongolian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and other languages spoken in neighboring countries is still inadequate.


China has 29 neighbors, and their languages have been a focus of linguistic studies, said Guo Fenglan, deputy director of BLCU's center for neighboring countries, adding that nearly 1,000 languages and dialects are currently used in the region, posing great challenges to research.

The Belt and Road Initiative has expanded the scope of study for Guo's team to languages used in Arab and African countries.

They have been conducting research on languages and cultures of more than 40 countries, including all of China's neighbors, according to Guo.

The center, established in 2013, has built a database for the languages of China's neighboring countries.

Li cited Myanmar as an example, with Chinese language institutions cooperating with counterparts in Myanmar to establish Chinese language schools and a Belt and Road research institute there, initiatives that have been supported by local government.


As the Belt and Road Initiative involves billions of people in dozens of countries, China should be culturally sensitive to other nations, experts said.

Guo also stressed language research in China's ethnic minority regions, such as Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan and Guangxi, where languages often overlap with those used in neighboring countries.

China has assigned strategic importance to the study of languages of neighboring countries as part of a national security plan, given escalating territorial and maritime disputes with neighbors, as well as anti-terrorism purposes, Li said.

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