Skip to main content

The Chinese Way

On the train home from London yesterday, I shared a carriage with three Russian women, two Chinese, one African and I think, an Iranian sitting opposite me. It somehow reminded me of the film, “Blade Runner”, where in a futuristic Los Angeles; even the police speak a peculiar mix of “City speak”, Chinese, Spanish and English.

Chinese or at least Mandarin is now the language to learn and if I was younger, Id’ probably try learning it myself and if it were taught in my daughter’s school, I’d be delighted.

An independent school in Brighton has become the first in the UK to make Mandarin Chinese compulsory for pupils, reflecting the growing importance of China on the world stage. But it's not an easy language to master. Firstly, the script poses problems. There is no alphabet, just thousands of characters; so many that no one can give a definitive total, but it is believed to be around 60,000.

China is now the world's fastest growing major economy and with British exports to the country expected to quadruple by the end of the decade, government wants every school, college and university to be twinned with an equivalent in China within the next five years.

An estimated 100 schools in the UK are now teaching Mandarin, China's official language but I suspect, it may be slow in coming to Thanet.

We all need to grasp the importance of China’s growth and perhaps encourage our children to think about it too, because it’s China, rather than a defunct and tottering Europe, which will increasingly define our wealth and the shape of our economy in the future and when everything one can think of can be made more cheaply over there, what on earth are we going to manufacture and add value to over here?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…