The 2003 Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, also known as "Chinese Bridge" Competition, is being held in China. The preliminary contests have finished by now and 63 contestants were selected from more than 2,000 players in 29 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, America, France, Italy, England, Australia and so on. The semi-final will be held in Shanghai on December 15 and the final contest will be in Beijing on December 21. The prize awarding ceremony will be held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 22.
The annual competition is proposed by the China State Leading Group for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and sponsored by the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL).
"The theme of this year's competition is 'China in the new century', aimed at publicizing the great achievements China has made since it adopted the opening and reform policy. The 63 selected contestants will show their excellent language ability and youngsters' personality in China," Zhang Guoqing, deputy director of NOCFL, said at a press conference on December 12 in Beijing.
This year's competition will select three top winners, who will win the title of "Chinese Language Envoy" and scholarships for them up to doctoral degree level including traveling expenses. There are five second prizes and eight third prizes.
Zhang said, with the progress of economic globalization and culture diversification, language plays a more and more important role. Because of China's continuous developing economy and promotion of an international stature, the importance of the Chinese language is recognized by governments and education sectors of other countries. With this background, the competition is held.
There were 49 contestants in 21 countries entering the semi-final contest and 15 contestants winning prizes last year. The scale and range of this year's contest are enlarged.
According to the sponsors, all the contestants entering the semi-final will take part in serious lectures on China's economy and culture and visit the symbolic scenic spots and relics sites, including the Eastern Pearl Tower and the Bund (Waitan) in Shanghai, and the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace in Beijing.
(China.org.cn by Chen Lin and Daragh Moller, December 12, 2003)