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400 million can't speak national language in China

Published On: Sep 05 2013 10:47:09 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2013 11:03:20 AM CDT
China Flag

In a push for linguistic unity, China points out that 400 million of its people can't speak the national language.

Mandarin is the official national language of China and large numbers either speak it badly or can't speak it at all, state media said.

According to Reuters, Ministry of Education spokeswoman Xu Mei said that only 70 percent of the country could speak Mandarin and the remaining 30 percent or 400 million people could not speak it. China's ruling Communist Party has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of often mutually unintelligible dialects and numerous minority languages, but has been hampered by the country's size and lack of investment in education, especially in poor rural areas. The promotion of Mandarin has long been a contentious issue in China, despite the practical benefits of having the entire population fluent in one tongue, and in some cases has lead to violent unrest.