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China to Popularize Mandarin by 2010
China will ensure that mandarin, the officially-endorsed standard Chinese spoken language also known as putonghua (the common speech), is commonly used throughout the country by 2010.

By the middle of this century, China would fully popularize the spoken language, said Yang Guang, a senior official with the Ministry of Education, in Beijing Thursday.

Since 1998, China has set the third week of September each year as the one to popularize mandarin, in an effort to standardize its official spoken language.

During the event from September 15 to 21, China will stage advertisements, television programs, contests and art performances to promote the language.

A survey by the China Remin University has showed that the popularization rate of mandarin is about 80 percent in urban China, as more than 90 percent of urban residents are willing to use mandarin.

But that popularization rate is rather low in the remote areas and the places where minority groups live, according to the survey.

Within two or three years, China's business hub of Shanghai will require its civil servants to hold a putonghua proficiency certificate, so as to remain in the civil service.

China has thousands of different dialects in use among its 1.3 billion people. Mandarin, which is based mostly on the principal dialect spoken in and around Beijing, takes great efforts for people in southern China to master.

(Xinhua News Agency September 12,2002)

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