China sets target for 80% of citizens to speak Mandarin by 2020

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A teacher writes the Chinese character of "Love" during a class at a school in Dujiangyan, Sichuan province, China, 1 June 2008Image source, Getty Images
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Only 40% of people in some rural parts of China speak the national dialect

China has said that it wants 80% of its citizens to speak Mandarin, the country's dominant dialect, by 2020.

The current figure of 70% leaves hundreds of millions of people speaking other languages, the government says.

It also wants to improve Mandarin speaking among teachers, especially those from ethnic minority regions.

China has numerous local dialects and the government wants to close the gap between different regions and groups of people.

In some cases the residents of one rural village may be unable to understand the locals living just two villages away, correspondents say.

The Chinese government wants to remedy this, admitting that despite the majority of people in large cities understanding the language, only 40% of people in some parts of China are able to speak the national dialect.

The Chinese authorities said that they would ensure that all new teachers passed a standard Mandarin speaking test, adding that online remote teaching would also be used to ensure teachers of different Chinese ethnicities were able to learn.

China is the world's most populous nation with 1.35 billion people living in the country, which covers an area of 9.6 million sq km (3.7 million sq miles).