From People’s Daily:
While increasing numbers of foreign students grapple with the challenges of learning Chinese putonghua, or Mandarin, a senior official has said at least 40 per cent of China’s own population is unable to communicate in the country’s official language.
A national survey released in 2004 found that only 53 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people could speak putonghua, said Yuan Zhongrui, director of the putonghua popularization department under the Ministry of Education.
He told China Daily after a ministry press briefing yesterday that although progress has been made in recent years because of government popularization efforts, “at least 40 per cent of Chinese are still unable to speak standard Chinese”.
He said people who cannot speak putonghua are mainly those with “little education,” or “the illiterate,” and most of them are rural residents. [Full Text]