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An increasing number of foreigners are showing interest in learning Chinese as China increases exchanges with the outside world.

It is estimated that the number of foreigners coming to China to learn the language over the last few years has maintained an average annual growth rate of 35 percent.

Last year alone, more than 100,000 students took part in HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi), also known as the Chinese Proficiency Test, the highest number since the test was initiated a decade ago, Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to Chi Lanying, president of the Beijing Language and Culture University, which has a long history in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, the Chinese language has become increasingly important as an international means of communication.

A survey shows that a growing number of foreigners study Chinese for their job rather than out of personal interest.

Among the foreign students who took part in HSK in Beijing last year, about half were there for professional reasons.

(eastday.com January 10, 2002)

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