Wed, August 05, 2009

Kobe Bryant: Is mandarin Chinese a skill for Chinese market?

2009-08-05 08:58:34 GMT2009-08-05 16:58:34 (Beijing Time)

At the Nike training camp “Winner of the Arc de Triumph” on July 25 in Shanghai, Kobe Bryant’s simple Chinese words “I love China”, “I love you”, and “Good shot” won overwhelming responses from the Chinese audience. The fans’ enthusiasm for Kobe Bryant is partly because Kobe used simple Chinese words to communicate with his Chinese audience.

That worked. A Beijing fan named Wang Bo said: “When we hear him speak Chinese, we feel closer to him and we love him more.” The response not only reflects the sensation Kobe brought, but also direct economic benefits. The NBA general manager of China said in a recent interview: “For sports jersey sales in China, Kobe is far exceeding Yao Ming, another NBA star from China.” The general manager of Sports Information Agency Qian Rui also said: “Kobe has a very clear idea of how to succeed in China—The Chinese fans love him when he is in the court, but they would also like to know his feeling towards the Chinese culture and Chinese people. Kobe is very skillful in catering to the needs of Chinese fans, and pleasing the fans. Doing so obviously has brought immense business opportunities for his sponsors.

Although mandarin Chinese does not influence business directly, it exerts profound effect on business indirectly. If Kobe Economy is not so convincing yet, the following examples will illustrate this point adequately. Timothy Geithner, nominated as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury by Obama, has been warmly welcomed by Chinese people since his accession because of his mastery of Chinese. And understanding Chinese facilitates his work related to China greatly. For multinationals such as Microsoft, it added 5000 jobs in China this year even with the financial crisis. As a result, more and more people started to learn Chinese. A 23-year-old student from Ontario, Canada named Park Evans admitted that he picked up Chinese again, because he thought that Chinese could be an advantage when he looks for a job later in the year. “If you can speak both English and Chinese well, you will bring another key skill on the table.” Park said, “Meanwhile, you may get a higher salary in investment bank and financial enterprise than those who cannot speak (Chinese), if your job is related to the global financial market.”

As one of the 112 foreign contestants in the eighth “Chinese Bridge” World University Chinese Language Competition, Long long, a sophomore from Australia said that he was just interested in Chinese people and culture at the very beginning, but with the rapid development of Chinese economy, he began to have an interest in working in the business field in China with the help of a good command of Chinese.

However, Danny Cray, an Australia lawyer with an eight-year-old daughter, has his own opinion: “Chinese is admittedly important, but English is the universal language, and even the Chinese are learning English, so can’t one also go around the world with good English?”

We interviewed Fred Rao, founder and CEO of, a premier online mandarin Chinese school. He said: “English is very popular in China, but not all Chinese people’s English levels are sufficient for communications at various levels. Speaking Chinese will definitely bring a lot of benefits, especially trust and respect, both of which are highly valued in the Chinese society. Employees from companies like Motorola, IBM, and Nike have taken the Chinese courses from In fact, they have told us that they found out business professionals with a good command of Chinese are better equipped in conducting business in China and managing the Chinese employees. ”

Jack Feinberg, an employee from Motorola who is learning with, said: “Learning Chinese is helpful for my daily job as I have to communicate with my Chinese counterparts daily. Now I can tell jokes with them! And learning a new language and a new culture is a lot of fun!”

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