More British schoolchildren should be learning Chinese, rather than French or German, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
Speaking as he completed a three-day visit to the Far Eastern state, Mr Cameron said China will be the world’s biggest economy by the time children born today leave school, meaning that they will benefit from learning its dominant language, Mandarin.
Setting a goal of doubling Mandarin learners to 400,000, the PM said the number of Chinese language assistants in the UK is to be doubled by 2016, while funding will be increased to reduce the cost to schools of providing Mandarin training.
As part of a package from the British Council and the Chinese National Office for Teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language - known as Hanban - to promote Chinese language learning in the UK, partnerships will be forged between schools in the two countries, and 60 headteachers will be funded to go on study visits to China in 2014.
Mr Cameron said: “I want Britain linked up to the world’s fast-growing economies.
“And that includes our young people learning the languages to seal tomorrow’s business deals.’’