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Uzbekistan embarks on journey

By Ren Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-30 06:40

Parental support

Having studied Chinese for three years, Nozima Komijonova can speak the language fluently. When she decided to study the language, her mother fully supported her decision.

"Many people say Chinese is difficult to learn, but I don't think so," the 14-year-old said. "I started learning Chinese because I'm fascinated by the country's culture-my biggest dream is to visit China someday."

Mukhlisa Muminova is in her fifth year of studying Chinese in Tashkent. The junior student isn't concerned about her future employment prospects because the Uzbek capital is home to a number of Chinese companies, and many local businesses also conduct business with China.

Liu Tao, the Chinese director of the Confucius Institute in Samarkand, said the young students' comments accurately reflect the opinions of many Uzbeks.

Established in late 2014, the Confucius Institute in Samark- and is the fruit of cooperation between the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages and Shanghai International Studies University.

The institute is relatively new, so student numbers haven't yet reached those in Tashkent, but many people are pleased that more local teenagers and children are becoming interested in Chinese culture, Liu said.

The monthly tuition fee is 80,000 Uzbek som ($23), a large sum in a country whose per capita GDP was just $2,130 in 2015, according to the latest data from the International Monetary Fund. Despite the cost, many young Uzbeks want to learn Chinese because the language will offer a wider range of opportunities when they eventually look for jobs.

"The number of students has seen a big rise, compared with last year. We believe the Confucius Institute will have a healthy development," Liu said.

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