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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Chinese diplomats' knowledge of foreign languages (in Korea, and elsewhere)

Chosun Ilbo has an interesting note on the level of Korean proficiency among the Chinese diplomats in Seoul. The number of staff in the Chinese embassy in Seoul is about 60, and close to 50 of them are fluent in Korean. "In general, all dealings with Koreans are done in Korean." The ambassador Li Bin, who is known for letting Koreans know what the Chinese opinions are, has served 19 years in DPRK, and has spent more than half of his life in the Koreas. The story also points out that the strong pressure excerted by the embassy towards Korean politicians not to take part in the inauguration of the Taiwanese president was possible thanks to the fluency of Korean of the staff.
The language proficiency of Chinese diplomats should not be at the same level here in Finland, but their embassy does have Finnish-speaking Chinese staff, and to my knowledge they don't need locals to read them local papers. For Korean diplomats two years is already a long service in one location, so who'd learn a less international local language. (As for Finnish diplomats in Seoul, they are no better.)

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