China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is undoubtedly one of the most significant joint project between China and Pakistan aimed to improve socio economic position of both nations. Apart from having a favorable and positive effects on both the economies, it will also affect the languages across the borders. Because of CPEC’s significance and expectations, people in Pakistan think that they should focus on Chinese because it has more speakers than any other language in the world as compared to English. Learning Chinese language is gaining popularity in Pakistan as China asserts its influence and power in the competition for economic supremacy worldwide and the world is expecting economic revolution in near future after the completion of CPEC.
Urdu is Pakistan’s national and official language but English was the language officially used in all official matters of the country. Because English is regarded as a lingua franca, English speakers are prevalent in Pakistan, especially among the educated where people study English in order to obtain good employment since it is seen as a language of success. However, with the big step of CPEC, Pakistanis believe that they should concentrate on the Chinese language, which has the highest ratio of speakers in the world when compared to English. Chinese language learners will have a bright and prosperous future since they will have more career chances in the future than other language learners. It is an undeniable fact that CPEC is causing a linguistic shift in Pakistan. It is also becoming a source of multilingualism in Pakistan, as pupils would be able to communicate in Chinese as well as Urdu, English, and their mother tongues such as Punjabi, Sindhi, and Balti.
If we ignore the importance of Chinese language than this language barrier act as a missing connect of between both nations and leave bad footprints on our economy, because if employees want to communicate via the company’s intranet, they may not get an positive feedback due to the language barrier or limited access to the company’s information system. Chinese project teams will face certain problems in the areas that are part of the One Belt-One Road (BRI), because of differences in language and culture. So, for removing these vast barriers of communication languages of both countries should be promoted. A conversation on the need of learning each other’s languages was conducted in November 2018 at Beijing hosted by the fourth CPEC media forum to better understand each other’s histories and cultures, as well as to avoid misunderstandings caused by information gaps and language barrier.
However, China in particular has a long history of promoting Urdu. China established an Urdu department at Peking University in Beijing in the 1950s. Since then, the department has educated numerous Chinese scholars who are fluent in Urdu. The department also published the first complete Chinese-Urdu dictionary and translated several significant works of Urdu literature into Chinese. One way to determine how popular Urdu is in China is by looking at the fact that at least five colleges now offer the language at different levels. Graduates from these programs work in a wide range of government organizations and offer their services to many private businesses. According to an old Chinese proverb, interpersonal intimacy and close connection between two nations serve as the foundation for contacts and mutual understanding between them. Therefore, significant potential of both languages under BRI concluded with the fact that, it is right time to increase the participation in bilateral cultural communication and collaboration which must concentrate on certain cultural industries from various angles. Industries such as radio and television, folk arts and crafts, performing arts, festival exhibitions, cultural relics, etc. To encourage linguistic and cultural contacts between the two sides, they will also debut TV programs as part of this initiative.
Similarly, Language competency is a necessary component for the success of any small or large project under CPEC as the work force involved in all projects is a hybrid combination of Pakistani and Chinese workers so, Language has a significant impact on this mega projects having multilingual workforce. Furthermore, both nations are trying hard to eliminate this linguistic barrier between their citizens. The CPEC will be favorable for economic growth of Pakistan if and only if it generate prosperity by creating employment and financial gains so its high time for the people of both countries to learn each other’s language and develop people-to-people contact. The outset of CPEC has amplified the reach of Chinese language in Pakistan. People have begun to understand the importance of the Chinese language in exploring business and employment opportunities under CPEC where many Pakistanis who are proficient in Chinese will enjoy a wealthy future. The achievement of CPEC’s common development goal includes not only the political and economic realms but also the linguistic and cultural ones, where contacts between people will foster growth and prosperity in the regions which are connected with this game changing project.
The governments of the two countries to start such TV programs to encourage linguistic and cultural contacts between the two sides. The Pakistani government encourage the study of Chinese at all levels, including schools, colleges, and universities. Despite the two nations’ all-weather friendship, China-Pakistan cultural exchanges and collaboration are neither particularly high quality nor particularly extensive. There are significant potential of bi-lateral trade under BRI so, it is imperative to increase the participation in bilateral cultural communication and collaboration. The participants may be through eminent individuals from various universities, educational institutions, cultural enterprises, media, film, television, entertainment, museums, tourism, catering, and so on. It is also recommended that a public education campaign on the different opportunities and openings of CPEC be launched through media to remove this language barrier.
The Authors Iqra Noor & Sumayyah Chowhan are the students of BS-III (English)/Dept of H&SS Bahria University Karachi.
Supervised by Urooj Aijaz (Faculty Bahria University Karachi)