And China wants to export a piece of its culture to a far, far away continent. Long dominated by American cultures and old colonial overlords, China’s soft-power strategy is attempting to make in-roads in Africa.
Addis Ababa is host to Chinese, Indian and even Turkish schools where Ethiopian children must sing the national anthems of those countries every morning, where they learn their languages, their dances, their songs, their particular set of manners. And where they learn a foreign history alongside their own.
Such schools and “cultural exchange programs” are mushrooming all over the continent as the war for influence over African countries heats up.
And the lure of free Chinese language teachers also mean those learning Chinese in American classrooms are on the rise.
No one keeps an exact count, but rough calculations based on the government’s survey suggest that perhaps 1,600 American public and private schools are teaching Chinese, up from 300 or so a decade ago. And the numbers are growing exponentially.
American demands of language classes rise and fall with economic fortunes of those countries. Back in the 80s, when Japan’s economy was on the rise and talks of world domination peppered the press, a lot of parents signed their kids up. But since the bubble burst, most have dropped the language.