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Lim Swee Say urges students to take greater interest in Chinese language

Channel NewsAsia recently covered Singaporean politician Lim Swee Say’s words of wisdom at a student forum about the rise of China. As the article highlights, “Having a good command of Chinese is increasingly important in an environment where the use of Chinese becomes more pervasive.” And this is happening all over the world, in just about every industry. Mr. Lim urged students to note the growing importance of learning Mandarin Chinese and the immense value of being a foreigner with Chinese language ability. Below is a selection of quotes from Mr. Lim.

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Lim Swee Say urges students to take greater interest in Chinese language [select quotes]

31 March 2012 by Sharon See | Channel NewsAsia

"… my own philosophy is that when I’m in China, I try to let [the Chinese] see the difference between us. I want them to know that I look at things differently. I look at … how technology is being used, the way business is being run and so on differently. I look at the way we run Singapore society, community which is different from China. But yet at the same time, I must be able to speak enough of their language so that I can explain to them in what way we’re different, why we’re different and more importantly, why we can learn from each other and leverage on each other. In other words, being bilingual, in my view, is very important.”

"If I am monolingual and expert only in Mandarin, I think I would be [of] limited use to the Chinese because as I said, there are 1.3 billion of them. They do not need one more."

"We’re not trying to position ourselves as an effective interpreter. This is not our role. Our role is to be part of the process of creating something together. Language understanding in my view is just a basic necessity.”

"The reason why the West is running fast to learn Mandarin is because they feel that without the language as a tool, they’re at a big disadvantageous position. So they’re trying to minimise their disadvantages. The East are learning fast to learn English because there are many things that they want to reach out to the West [about]. They’re not able to do so because language is a barrier. That’s why they’re learning the languages."

"We learn … the best from the West and the East and we put them together in what we call the eclectic approach. It means you pick the best features of the world, put them together and adapt to it.”

Read full article here.

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