Five Chinese universities in Yunnan province have been teaching Bangla language and cultures to students that play a big role in promoting trade and business ties between China and Bangladesh, reports UNB.
According to teachers at the Chinese universities, interest in learning Bangla language is growing day-by-day among students, and Chinese people in general.
Prof Hu, who has visited Bangladesh a number of times to enhance cooperation between the University of Dhaka and Yunnan University, informed that he is now working to establish cooperation with other public and private universities in Bangladesh. He believes learning Bangla by Chinese students will enhance communications between the two nations and understand each other's' culture.
Besides Yunnan University, the remaining other four universities in the province are Communication University, Peking University, Minzu University and Kunming University.
In addition, the teachers said, there are three universities in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, that also teach Bangla language and culture.
Subarna Aktar, a Bangladeshi citizen who teaches Bangla in the School of Foreign Languages of Yunnan University, said many Chinese students are getting interested to learn Bangla because of the expanding trade relations between the two countries.
Echoing Subarna, Mishkat Sharif, another Bangladeshi teacher at the Bangla Department in Minzu University, said those who learn the language have better job opportunities with different companies who have been doing businesses in Bangladesh.
China has emerged as Bangladesh's biggest trade partner in recent years, with bilateral trade topping $27 billion in 2022, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. Of that total, China's exports exceeded $26 billion, while Bangladesh's exports to China amount to less than $1 billion.
According to the teachers, Bangla Departments at the Chinese universities allow an intake of 20-25 students every other year to learn Bangla language and culture.
On the other hand, many Bangladeshi students are increasingly attending Chinese universities, especially in Yunnan, to study different subjects.
Currently, there are 121 Bangladeshi students studying at Yunnan University, Ahmed Moin Uddin, a graduate of the School of International Chinese Language Education, told UNB. In the last 10 years, more than 1000 Bangladesh students graduated from Yunnan University, he added.
Every Bangladesh student has to learn the Chinese language besides knowing English to study at Yunnan University.
Yang Meifeng, a student of Faculty of South Asian Languages (Bangla), said she is very happy to study in the Bangla department as it helps her to know about South Asian language and culture.
During the visit of the Bangladeshi journalists, Yunnan University hosted an impressive cultural programme for them where the Chinese students of the Bangla Language and Culture Department sang Bangla songs and the visitors found their performances 'amazing'.
Sources said the universities in Yunnan province are introducing Bangla as a new subject for study as part of the Chinese government's long term vision to build Kunming, the capital of the province, as a commercial hub for the South and South East Asian regions.
The universities opened multilingual courses to create opportunities for the students so that they can work at different organisations in the country.
The Chinese government established an institute to teach Chinese language to foreign professionals and academics as part of their Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) programme.
Yunnan University (YNU) runs an institute named "Belt and Road Initiative Chinese Language Promotion Centre for South and South East Asia" for teaching the Chinese language and traditions to foreigners.