It seems that speaking Mandarin is becoming more important for foreign reporters working in China, especially those attending a news conference with Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday.
Seven foreign journalists got the opportunity to question Li. Five of them, including reporters from Financial Times, Bloomberg and Korean Broadcasting System, asked in Chinese.
After hearing a question about Chinese buying houses in key cities around the world from the Financial Times, Li praised his fluent Mandarin and asked whether he had bought houses in China.
Foreign reporters who cannot speak Chinese well, or at least understand the basics, could lose opportunities.
For example, when Liu Jianchao, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who co-hosted the news conference, designated a reporter from Agencia Efe, the Spanish news agency, for a question, it seemed the journalist didn't understand, and there was a long pause. An Austrian reporter grabbed the microphone and asked his question before the Spanish speaker stood up.
Speaking Chinese is not easy for some foreign journalists. It was tough, even awkward, for a KBS reporter who raised a question about China's economy.
Oh Se-kyoon, chief of the Beijing bureau of KBS, had to stop several times to consult his notebook while asking a question in Mandarin.
Other points from premier's news conference
We will be able to lay a more solid foundation for cross-Straits business co-operation and expand the business space.
To boost economic co-operation between the two sides, we need to get two wheels in motion. One wheel is to enhance institution-building－for example, to continue to pursue the follow-up consultations on the ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement). The other wheel is about further mutual opening-up. Closer attention will be paid to investments made by Taiwan business people on the mainland.
Here I would like to ask you to convey a message to all these people, which I believe will prove to be quite reassuring to them, that the mainland will continue to protect the lawful rights and interests of Taiwan businesspeople on the mainland, and continue to pursue preferential policies toward them as appropriate.
It's true that this year's Government Work Report said we need to strictly comply with the Constitution and Basic Law. This shows our commitment to ensuring the insistence and implementation of the principle of One Country, Two Systems.
The central government will continue to firmly support Hong Kong and the chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR in governing the region with the law, and the central government will give stronger support to Hong Kong for it to play its unique role in China's reform, opening-up and modernization drive.
Family planning policy
The Chinese government will take account of the country's social and economic development when formulating and adjusting population-related laws and policies. The government is carrying out a review of the policy that was announced last year to allow some married couples to have a second child. Any adjustment to related policies and laws will be made according to legal procedures.
China follows an independent foreign policy of peace. On the issue of Ukraine, China has adopted an objective and just position. We respect Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We hope that there will be a negotiated settlement of this issue through dialogue.
As for Crimea, there are complex causes behind this issue. We also hope to see a political settlement of this issue through dialogue and that there will be harmonious coexistence between neighbours. What we hope to see is the pursuit of common development and win-win outcomes between European countries－and between all countries in the world.
One highlight in the China-US relationship is that the two sides are advancing negotiations of a bilateral investment treaty, built around the previous establishment of national treatment and a negative list. This is designed to break the ceiling over China-US business co-operation and will open up new dimensions for the further growth of the China-US ties. Naturally, the negotiations will take some time. But a clear message has been sent already to the whole international community that China-US business ties will get even closer. This will put the overall China-US relationship on a more solid footing.
All civil servants must enhance their self-discipline, and government power can only be used for the public good, not personal gains. There must be no irresponsibly, either in action or inaction on the part of government officials. And there is no room for incompetence or indolence on the part of government officials. We also need to step up the accountability system.
I hope more people can make reading a kind of way of life, and also find it is useful for work. Reading can further unlock the potential for innovation in our development and boost civic morality. That is why I have, for two years running, written this in to the Government Work Report. And I elieve it will also be the case for next year's report.