A series of exhibitions, activities and forums helped promote Thursday’s International Chinese Language Day, established by the United Nations, to a broader audience.

To mark the 14th International Chinese Language Day, which falls on April 20, Cape Town in South Africa witnessed the opening of a special exhibition: The Way of Type – Modernization of Chinese Typography. By showing the development of fonts starting from ceramic movable type, the exhibition gives visitors an overview of the general landscape of the modern development of Chinese characters.

“This exhibition will travel around the world including the UK and South Korea, to celebrate the special day,” curator of the exhibition Yue Jieqiong said.

This is just one of the worldwide celebrations held on Chinese Language Day. In the Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris, the day was celebrated early on Tuesday with a singing performance in both Chinese and French by a performer dressed in qipao.

The 2023 Chinese Language Day was celebrated under the theme of “Chinese Wisdom for a Green World” by the UN in the hope of contributing Chinese knowledge in green and sustainable development, which will also echo meetings such as the Water Conference and the SDG Summit that will be held by the UN throughout 2023.

Separate activities include the school Chinese calligraphy event held at the Confucius Institute at the University of Johannesburg in Johannesburg, South Africa, and folk music performances held in Vienna, Austria, to further explore the role of China’s traditional culture in today’s modern world.

At a celebration held by the Center for Language Education and Cooperation in Beijing on Thursday, scholars and many ambassadors to China sent their congratulatory notes. Young sinologists from all over the world gathered for forums at the event to discuss the role and impact of Chinese language on the world.

“The Chinese language is increasingly becoming the bond that links friendly relations between China and the world, especially Indonesia, and promotes mutual understanding and trust between Chinese and Indonesian people,” Indonesian Ambassador to China Djauhari Oratmangun said at Thursday’s ceremony.

“Chinese Language Day’s events provide a window for people around the world to get close to Chinese language while feeling Chinese culture,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin noted at Thursday’s regular press briefing.

Statistics show that as of now, more than 180 countries and regions around the world have Chinese language teaching programs, 82 of which have incorporated Chinese language learning into their national education system, such as Iran, which will add Chinese language to the national middle school education system from 2024, and UAE, where around 60 schools across the country have included the language.

“Academically speaking, the relationship between China and the Arab world has always been a hot topic. In the past few decades, the trend of mutual language learning between China and Arab countries has greatly improved. And this is an evidence of the increase in mutually beneficial cooperation and friendly exchanges between the two sides,” Xue Qingguo, an Arabic studies professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Chinese Language Day falls annually on Guyu, or the Grain Rain, the sixth of the 24 solar terms in the Chinese calendar. Created in 2010, the day was designated to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity, and promote the equal use of the six official languages within the United Nations.

“If you want to understand China, you need to start by learning Chinese; but if you want to understand Chinese culture, it is not sufficient to just learn the language. In addition, you need to go deep into the local areas, travel all over China, and go to different cities to experience the cultural differences, and the folklore of the country,” Patricia, a Peruvian sinologist and anthropology PhD who has visited places across China including Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region during her 20-year stay in the country, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“This is a friendly country where you are always offered help.”

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