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Ambassador Sun Xianghua's Speech at "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Secondary School Students and "Voice of Friendship" Chinese Speaking Competition in Lesotho
On 3 September 2017, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Confucius Classroom at Machabeng College International School of Lesotho co-hosted the 1st Lesotho Preliminary Contest of the 10th Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Secondary School Students and the 1st Voice of Friendship Chinese Speech Competition for Basotho Chinese Language Fans. The speech delivered by H. E. Dr. Sun Xianghua, Ambassador of P. R. China to Lesotho at the opening ceremony of the competitions was as follows:

1. welcome to the "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Secondary School Students and the "Voice of Friendship" Chinese Language Speaking Competition. This is the first time that these competitions are held in Lesotho. The reasons for introducing this competition to Lesotho are multiple, but the most important one is to enhance the communication and mutual understanding between the peoples of China and Lesotho. As we all know, China-Lesotho relations have grown from strength to strength in the past decades. This relationship has become a fine model of relations between countries. Our two countries have carried out extensive cooperation in various fields. For example, the parliament building, the manthabiseng national convention centre, the state library, the China-Lesotho Friendship Middle School, and the new State House are decorating the skyline of Maseru as concrete embodiment of our cooperation. Apart from the field of infrastructure, we are also engaged in Lesotho's agriculture development, export industry, public health sector, broadcasting and telecommunication, education and culture, food security and disaster relief, etc.


2. Among all the fields of cooperation, the people-to-people exchange plays an increasingly important part. Up until now, more than 2000 Basotho have gone to China for training or education. Currently, 300 Basotho are going to China for short training courses each year, and the Chinese Government is providing 50 plus scholarships to Basotho to study in China every year. With our ever increasing cooperation and exchanges, more and more Basotho wish to learn the Chinese Language, so that to explore more cooperation and development opportunities.  


3. As a matter of fact, this aspiration has become common among many people around the world. In this globalized world, geological distances are increasingly cut short by enhanced cooperation, and modernized transportation and communication technologies. Though tens of thousands of kilometers away, China is not really far away from any country in the world. The old adage: "as far away as China" is not true anymore. According to some statistics, there are more than 100 million people across the world who are learning the Chinese language as a foreign language. At this moment, there are more than 500 Confucius colleges and 1000 Confucius Classrooms in more than 130 countries around the world where many foreign friends learn this language. In Lesotho's close neighbour South Africa, the Ministry of Education announced in 2014 that the Chinese language was officially introduced into school curriculum as an international language.


4. Though Lesotho is a late comer in Chinese language learning, we are catching up fast. In April this year, the first Confucius Classroom was set up in Machabeng College, a Chinese teacher has been sent from China to help the running of this classroom. This year's Chinese Bridge competition in Lesotho will become a new milestone. From this year on, we will start sending Lesotho's contestants to compete in China every year. Today we are selecting the best of them to represent Lesotho's secondary school students, and they will compete with other students coming from across the world. I sincerely wish our Basotho contestants achieve high in this global competition and bring back a big trophy home.

Apart from the very first Chinese Bridge Competition, the Chinese Embassy simultaneously holds a "Voice of Friendship" Chinese Language Speaking Competition for the first time. Today, we have an increasing number of Basotho who have learnt Chinese while they were studying in China. We hope they don't forget this language after they have come back and continue to care and contribute to China-Lesotho friendship.


5. To know another language is to open a door to another world. To know Chinese, will help you to know more about the world's second largest economy, to know more about the biggest trading partner of Africa, to know more about a country with five thousand years' civilization, to know more about a civilization with rich contents and distinct characteristics, and to know how 1.3 billion Chinese people think and live. Though it requires a lot of hard work and perseverance to grasp this ancient and modern language, but I guarantee you that you will never regret in making the decision to learn it and you will harvest a lot in learning this language.

Lastly, I I wish this competition a success, and wish you all good luck.

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