I Listened to Radio 4’s Today programme as I normally do on my way into work each morning. This morning James Naughtie was reporting from Shanghai. His report on how the city has grown and developed over the last ten years was very illuminating.
The Chinese economy is booming and in places like Shanghai, is spiralling in astounding ways. James reported that wages for young professional Chinese people have in most cases doubled in the past 2 years.
He interviewed a slection of young Shanghai people on their impressions and thoughts about how they view their lives as first Chinese people and then secondly people living in Shaghai. Most reported that they have embraced the new growth in the economy and have eagerly jumped onto the “Capitalist” bandwagon with all the trappings of wealth and success, mobile phones, penthouse apartments in the new highrise developments in Pudong and fast sports cars.
They say that they can strike a balance between the old Chinese harmony and the new cultures of the rich and successful.
Interestingly all the interviews were carried out in English; not an interpreteur in earshot. It’s not suprising that all the new Shanghaians can speak near perfect English. After all English is the lingua franca of international commerce and if China is to play a bigger part in the worlds economy, then English language is going to have to become a high priority for most Chinese students.
The more the Chinese get involved with international commerce throughout the length and breadth of the country, not just in the commercial cities like Shanghai, the more important it will be for the rest of us to learn Chinese. I can envision a time in the future where the lingua franca will change over to Chinese or Mandarin.