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China Daily Website

Brush up your English, governor advises officials

Updated: 2012-03-14 21:45
By Liu Xiangrui (

As China opens up further, there will be more frequent foreign activities and it is vital for leaders to get equipped with English skills to improve their international communications, Zhang Qingwei, governor of Hebei province, said on Wednesday.

Zhang, 51, was a member of the English training class for officials at the provincial or ministerial level in 2011.

The training program was an important decision of the central government in a bid to enhance high-ranking officials' comprehension and to help them adapt better to the international environment. It was started in 2001 by Li Lanqing, who was vice-premier at the time.

Teaching staff, consisting of Chinese and foreign teachers, are selected for the program, and the teaching has taken place at the Chinese Academy of Governance (formerly known as China National School of Administration) in Beijing.

"I sought an opportunity to attend the class last year. I think the learning is both necessary and helpful," said Zhang. "I like English, and I need it for my job, too. It is likely to get more important in the future."

According to Zhang, the English training has helped him become more confident in foreign affairs activities and allows him to talk to foreigners in English on some occasions.

"For example, it has allowed me to carry out freer conversations with the governors from the United States," Zhang said.

He visited the US with Vice-President Xi Jinping and attended both the US-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum and the US-China governors' meeting in the US in February.

Better English helps him understand English speakers more precisely, too, he said.

Zhang said he has also made some efforts to promote the English training class. "Many entrepreneurs have joined the class since I encouraged them to do so," Zhang said.