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Frenchman speaks for Chinese learning

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-07 07:01

Frenchman speaks for Chinese learning

Joel Bellassen speaks at the award ceremony in Beijing upon winning the Huilin Cultural Award. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Sinologist Joel Bellassen, who recently won the Huilin Cultural Award, explains why he sees a bright future for the language across the globe. Wang Kaihao reports.

A look at this man's WeChat account could lead you to think that he's a Chinese who loves trying out regional cuisines and touring the country to study traditional culture.

But Joel Bellassen-better known by his Chinese name, Bai Lesang-is a French Sinologist and professor of Chinese at the Paris-based National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilization.

He first came to China as a student in 1973 and stayed in the country until 1975.

Then, he not only visited the metropolises but also experienced life in the countryside and factories.

He soon fell in love with the Chinese language, an unconventional thing at that time.

"Then, I was a lonely friend of the Chinese language in France," the 67-year-old says.

"But today people in France are enthusiastic about learning the square characters, and I'd like to build a bridge for them."

According to Bellassen, the first inspector-general of Chinese language teaching at the French ministry of education, there are now more than 100,000 Chinese-language learners in France, making it the leader in Europe.

Speaking about winning the Huilin Cultural Award-an annual prize given by Beijing Normal University to those who make extraordinary contributions to cultural communication-Bellassen, who was in Beijing recently to receive the prize, says: "It (the award) is a review of what I've done and reminds me of what remains to be done."

As for what he has done, the list is extensive.

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