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Chinese language gains popularity in Egypt
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"China has witnessed rapid progress in the past 30 years since it adopted the policy of reform and opening-up," and its growing influence in the international community brings about a new round of "Chinese language fever" in Egypt, Hassan Rajab, a Chinese language teacher at Ain Shams University in Cairo, told Xinhua.

Rajab, one of the first Egyptians who learned Chinese language in the 1970s in China, was deeply impressed by the changes China experienced in the past three decades.

Rajab studied in China for the first time in 1986 and then continued his study in 1992 and 1997 respectively.

Recalling his almost four-year study in Beijing, Rajab said he was surprised by the progress China has made.

"There was few high buildings and large mansions in the 1980s when I was in Beijing for the first time," Rajab said, adding "But numerous skyscrapers erupted in the Chinese capital when I travelled to Beijing in 2003, the last time I visited Beijing."

In the first years of China's reform and opening-up, the standard of living in Beijing was also not very satisfying, said the Egyptian teacher, adding that people usually went home directly after daily work since there were few means of entertainment in those days.

Rajab, besides his study in Beijing, also visited a number of Chinese cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou in recent years.

These Chinese cities developed in an amazing way and the level of modernization almost reached that of the cities in Europe and America, said Rajab.

China has realized rapid economic growth and comprehensive social development since 1978 when the country approved the policy of reform and opening-up, which deserves study of developing countries, added Rajab.

"It has become more and more popular to study Chinese language in Egypt, which is different from the time when I began to study Chinese in the 1970s when few Egyptians learned Chinese language," said Rajab.

As time went on, the bilateral friendly ties between China and Egypt also reached a new phase in various sectors including trade, investment and educational cooperation.

According to statistics, the volume of bilateral trade between China and Egypt has reached some 5.3 billion US dollars as of October, a 44-percent increase compared with the same period of last year.

By the end of this July, some 570 Chinese companies have invested in the Northeastern African country.

In addition, more and more Egyptian students choose to study Chinese language as the bilateral ties ushered into a new phase.

Up to now, there are five Egyptian universities including Ain Shams University that have established Chinese language departments.

At a ceremony in late November marking an annual "China Day" in Ain Shams University, Egyptian student Ihab Samir said he has a plan to establish a tourism company in China to enhance tourism cooperation between the two countries.

Samir, who spent one year in 2007 in Beijing to study Chinese language when he was a junior, said it's a good job to become a Chinese-language tour guide in Egypt in recent years as more and more Chinese people came to visit Egypt, a popular tourism destination in the world.

Meanwhile, two Egyptian universities set up Confucius Institute, a model of educational cooperation between China and world countries, in recent years.

In mid March, the Confucius Institute of Egypt's famed Cairo University held a ceremony to celebrate the opening of its first Chinese-language class.

The Confucius Institute in Cairo, established last November, was jointly run by Cairo University and China's prestigious Peking University.

The institute, which is the first in Egypt and northern Africa, offered a series of Chinese language programs to Egyptian learners and also provide training programs to Chinese language teachers for primary and middle schools as well as colleges.

In April, an unveiling ceremony for the Confucius Institute of Egypt's Suez Canal University was held in the Egyptian city of Ismailia, some 120 km northeast of Cairo.

"It's China's development that attracts more and more Egyptian students to study Chinese language," said Rajab.

(Xinhua News Agency December 10, 2008)

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