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Chinese urged to learn African languages
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The director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Zimbabwe, Pedzisayi Mashiri, has called on the Chinese community to learn Zimbabwean local languages if they are to make more inroads with their business ventures.

In an interview with Xinhua on Saturday as the Chinese community celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the new China, Mashiri said it would be proper for Chinese business people to also learn local languages as this would ease communication problems between them and locals.

Although Zimbabwe has high literacy levels, there are some locals who cannot speak languages other than their native ones. So, even when the Chinese can speak English, they may find communication difficult in some parts of the country.

"Since we are learning the Chinese language in Zimbabwe, I think to strengthen the inter-cultural communication would be proper for them to also try to learn local languages such as Shona and Ndebele," Mashiri said.

The Confucius Institute was established in 2007 to propagate and expand the learning of Chinese culture and languages and offers demand-driven courses for people who are either in politics or in business.

"It is a vehicle for expansion and also consolidates the relationship between China and Zimbabwe.

"At the moment the relationship between China and Zimbabwe is excellent. As you know the relationship is anchored on a long history of collaboration in various fields. At the moment, because of language as vehicle for inter-cultural communication, the relationship has been consolidated because now we are receiving post-graduate scholarships for our students.

"From 2007 to now we have sent seven students from the University of Zimbabwe who are studying for their PhDs in various fields such as engineering, linguistics, theater and psychology, and because of that kind of educational program, the relationship between China and Zimbabwe has been further strengthened," he said.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Zimbabwe is the 85th around the world, and was jointly built by the Office of Chinese Language Council International and the university.

Mashiri was among some academics, politicians and diplomats who celebrated the founding of the new China at the Chinese Embassy's new chancery just outside the city center.

(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2009)

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