Irkutsk
Ulan-Ude

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Chita
Yakutsk

Birobidzhan
Vladivostok
Khabarovsk

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Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

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Petropavlovsk-
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Moscow

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Hieroglyph in priority

Why do the Far East learn Chinese?

According to the Consulate General of the PRC in Vladivostok, the Far Eastern capital ranks first in Russia in the study of the Chinese language, even ahead of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Web users have reacted ambiguously to this news. There were, for example, those who claimed: the inhabitants of Primorye are learning the language, realizing that the Far East will soon be surrendered to China, and this must be prepared. EastRussia found out whether it is worth believing the numbers, and why did the inhabitants of Primorye still learn Chinese.

Hieroglyph in priority
Photo: pixabay.com

Chinese in numbers

The director of the Eastern Institute - School of Regional and International Studies of the Far Eastern Federal University Evgeny Pustovoit indirectly confirms the data of the Chinese consulate: the number of students studying Chinese at FEFU has grown by several orders of magnitude in recent years, and there are noticeably more of them who study Japanese or Korean.

“At the undergraduate programs, the Chinese language as the main language is studied by 343 people, another 327 people are taught it as a second language, these are first-fourth year students and undergraduates“ non-Chinese ”. That is, now Chinese is learning about 670 people at the university, ”says Yevgeny Pustovoit, emphasizing that this indicator is the highest among the CIS countries and in Russia. The numbers are higher than in St. Petersburg and Moscow universities, even such as MGIMO or Moscow State University.

About 200 people, he adds, are simultaneously studying at the Confucius Institute of FEFU. There are Chinese language courses for students, preparation for passing the HSK international qualification exams and a practical Chinese program.

You can learn Chinese in numerous private language schools. One of them eagerly shares details: Chinese really outstrips English in popularity.

“Understanding the trend, we even changed the sign. If before it was something like "Teaching English and other languages," now "Teaching Chinese, English ...". But Chinese is very complex, 70% of students quickly drop out, ”said the manager of the language school.

According to her, the majority believes that the language can come in handy at work, but there have never been those who learn Chinese because of the expected change in state ownership of the territory.

Even the Chinese are surprised at this way of posing the question. A FEFU student from China, who calls himself Maxim Si in the Russian manner, did not immediately understand what was being discussed, and not at all because of the language barrier: for five in Vladivostok he learned to understand and speak Russian reasonably.

“One of my friends from Moscow came to learn Chinese in Vladivostok, because the Primorsky Territory borders on China. There is an opportunity to be there, improving the language. He wants to do business with my country, ”said Maxim C.

Maxim’s plans are to organize joint events for Russian and Chinese students.


At the highest level

Interest in learning a particular language always has a basis. So, a surge of interest in Japanese several years ago, reminds Evgeny Pustovoit, was caused by the spread of manga, anime, and J-pop music. In interest in Chinese, the director of the Oriental Institute also sees certain motives.

“In the 90 of the last century, the topic of the so-called“ Chinese threat ”was voiced in the scientific literature and the media. But now we have even fewer Chinese citizens than in those years, and interest in Chinese is growing. What is the reason for this? In my opinion, with the development of an attitude at the highest level between the PRC and the Russian Federation. We have now entered the phase of strategic partnership. The second point is extensive economic cooperation. Plus, the interest of our citizens in such an incomprehensible eastern country, with a non-Western type of thinking - a diverse, diverse China, the pace of development of which is amazing. There are also pragmatic motives - people think that they will find work in China or related to China. Knowledge of the Chinese language increases the chances of finding a job, ”explains the director of the Eastern Institute - FEFU School of Regional and International Studies.

Focusing on this, FEFU even launched a joint project with SIBUR. Lawyers - “tseloviks” will study Chinese in Russia and in China.

“Our graduates work for various companies in China itself, some were even hired by the Russian Foreign Ministry, my classmate got a job at the Beijing Chamber of Commerce and Industry. There is a lot of work, the main thing is to know the language and have patience in studying this complex country, ”adds the EastRussia interlocutor.




Work is not waiting

Expectations in terms of work, it seems, are not without reason. In October, experts at the hh.ru recruiting company reviewed the highest-paid employer offers in the Far East. Among the leaders were vacancies with a salary of 300 thousand rubles - an IT director with knowledge of Chinese and English, who has experience in the field of IT projects, and the position of a procurement manager who was promised from 200 thousand rubles. He was required to have a high level of knowledge of the Chinese language, higher education and experience in China. Both experts were invited to relocate to China.

But there are few such vacancies, and a considerable number of people are leaving to work in China. Elena Kovaleva is one of them. A few years ago, after graduating from the Eastern Institute of the FEFU, having gotten into her native Vladivostok, she left to conquer Moscow. There, her Chinese was also not useful, and Shanghai was the next stop. Now she works as an English teacher at a center for continuing education for children.

Elena does not agree that only Primorye residents learn Chinese: her entire stream was only a few people who were born and raised in the Far East, the rest came from the central regions. And here everything is clear: the “east” of FEFU is one of the best in Russia ”, and due to its territorial proximity it is easier to go on internships.

More recently, while in Vladivostok, the girl met with classmates. Of the seven, only two found work in their specialty - in the field of foreign economic activity. But salaries are small - in the region of 40 thousand rubles. In China, there is an opportunity to earn 2-2,5 times more, but you can find work with such a salary in Vladivostok, and without knowing Chinese, she believes.

“The media tell us about the huge number of joint Russian-Chinese projects, but in fact most of them are concentrated in the raw materials sector. And the Sinists are not particularly needed there, and few, moreover, want to go to a remote village after graduation and help the Chinese there, for example, in cutting down the Siberian forest, ”says a FEFU graduate.

Victoria Tregubova also studied Chinese - at the Confucius Institute, and then at Harbin University. In China, she found a job as a dance teacher. Recently I returned to Vladivostok, worked as a translator in a restaurant with a team of cooks invited from Hong Kong. A few months later, the institution closed, and the girl decided to return to China, where they are ready to take her to her former place, since in Primorye she cannot find work with such a salary.

“Students who see a more dynamic development of the Chinese economy are hopeful that they can join this process and earn more than in Russia. The propaganda that is present in our media regarding friendship with China suggests that relations will develop, which, accordingly, also promises additional employment opportunities. As for the “Chinese threat,” from the point of view of transferring the territory, this is nonsense. In terms of influence - economic political and otherwise, this is happening. And, if we consider this process a threat, then it is growing. But this does not depend on China, but on us: the weaker we are, the more influence China will acquire, ”summarizes the doctor of political sciences, Ph.D., head of the department of international relations and regional security of the Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography of the Far East Peoples Far East RAS Sergey Pestsov.