Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Isn't chinese mandarin language an indispensable skill for today CI professionals?

With a population of 1.4 billion people, and the fastest growing economy in the world, isn't theier language one of the most important skills to CI practioners nowadays, in order to get direct acess to primary sources in this country and be ahead of the competitors?


In order to have an idea about the influence of this country, take a look at: China Global Investment Tracker Interactive Map - Also, see the two images in attached.



How could someone who does not know mandarin could efficiently search at Baido, for exemplo?! How about visiting a trade show in this country with "the eyes" of CI Professional?! Is it english language still enough to this kind of jobs!?



Views: 1513


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Considering french, take a look at the link I posted below!!!

By the way, this link provides very interest considerations, maybe an answer, to this topic:




Interesting quoting in the text: 


"One factor behind the 9/11 attacks was the fact that the CIA lacked the Arabic-speakers who might have translated available intelligence."


Other interesting parts of it:


The practical reasons (to learn a second language) are just as compelling. In business, if the team on the other side of the table knows your language but you don’t know theirs, they almost certainly know more about you and your company than you do about them and theirs—a bad position to negotiate from.Many investors in China have made fatally stupid decisions about companies they could not understand. Diplomacy, war-waging and intelligence work are all weakened by a lack of capable linguists. Virtually any career, public or private, is given a boost with knowledge of a foreign language.


So which one should you, or your children, learn? If you take a glance at advertisements in New York or A-level options in Britain, an answer seems to leap out: Mandarin. China’s economy continues to grow at a pace that will make it bigger than America’s within two decades at most. China’s political clout is growing accordingly. Its businessmen are buying up everything from American brands to African minerals to Russian oil rights. If China is the country of the future, is Chinese the language of the future?


Probably not! Remember Japan’s rise? Just as spectacular as China’s, if on a smaller scale, Japan’s economic growth led many to think it would take over the world. It was the world’s second-largest economy for decades (before falling to third, recently, behind China). So is Japanese the world’s third-most useful language? Not even close. If you were to learn ten languages ranked by general usefulness, Japanese would probably not make the list. And the key reason for Japanese’s limited spread will also put the brakes on Chinese.


This factor is the Chinese writing system (which Japan borrowed and adapted centuries ago). The learner needs to know at least 3,000-4,000 characters to make sense of written Chinese, and thousands more to have a real feel for it. Chinese, with all its tones, is hard enough to speak. But  the mammoth feat of memory required to be literate in Mandarin is harder still. It deters most foreigners from ever mastering the system—and increasingly trips up Chinese natives.


A recent survey reported in the People’s Daily found 84% of respondents agreeing that skill in Chinese is declining. If such gripes are common to most languages, there is something more to it in Chinese. Fewer and fewer native speakers learn to produce characters in traditional calligraphy. Instead, they write their language the same way we do—with a computer. And not only that, but they use the Roman alphabet to produce Chinese characters: type in wo and Chinese language-support software will offer a menu of characters pronounced wo; the user selects the one desired. (Or if the user types in wo shi zhongguo ren, “I am Chinese”, the software detects the meaning and picks the right characters.) With less and less need to recall the characters cold, the Chinese are forgetting them. David Moser, a Sinologist, recalls asking three native Chinese graduate students at Peking University how to write “sneeze”:

To my surprise, all three of them simply shrugged in sheepish embarrassment. Not one of them could correctly produce the character. Now, Peking University is usually considered the “Harvard of China”. Can you imagine three phd students in English at Harvard forgetting how to write the English word “sneeze”? Yet this state of affairs is by no means uncommon in China.



As long as China keeps the character-based system—which will probably be a long time, thanks to cultural attachment and practical concerns alike—Chinese is very unlikely to become a true world language, an auxiliary language like English, the language a Brazilian chemist will publish papers in, hoping that they will be read in Finland and Canada. By all means, if China is your main interest, for business or pleasure, learn Chinese. It is fascinating, and learnable—though Moser’s online essay, “Why Chinese is so damn hard,” might discourage the faint of heart and the short of time.


(...) French ranks only 16th on the list of languages ranked by native speakers. But ranked above it are languages like Telegu and Javanese that no one would call world languages. Hindi does not even unite India. Also in the top 15 are Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese, major languages to be sure, but regionally concentrated. If your interest is the Middle East or Islam, by all means learn Arabic. If your interest is Latin America, Spanish or Portuguese is the way to go. Or both;learning one makes the second quite easy.


(...) If your interests span the globe, and you’ve read this far, you already know the most useful global language. But if you want another truly global language, there are surprisingly few candidates, and for me French is unquestionably top of the list.


Au Revoir! ;)

Hi Sandro,

With all this interst for China, maybe we can interest you in our upcoming conference in November. See



Hi Klaus,

I saw this web page yesterday, nice event! It would be really interesting to me to participate on it, but is really impossible to me to go to China by now!

thank you


Very interesting infographic on this subject by Digimind:


Search Engine Battlefield in China: Baidu Vs. Google

"Baidu understands China!"

"Baidu knows chinese better!"

"Baidu has unique insight and understanding of chinese culture!"


yes sometimes Baidu can find sth in Chinese google cannot find; yet at more times things are filtered by Baidu....

By the way... ;)

MONOCLE | ISSUE 57: Generation Lusofonia: why Portuguese is the new language of power and trade 


Here in Blumenau (FURB) everyone would agree with you.


Hi Klaus!

Actually I haven't read this article yet, I'll do it tomorrow! I just posted it here because I thought it funny! ;)


Interesting topic! If the answer is yes, I will be very happy as I have the inherited advantage. Yet I agree with Craig that since Chinese is such a difficult language to learn and English much easier(to reach a level of being able to read and converse, its advantage as being a global language) it is better the oher way around, i.e, Chinese ppl learning English and have more things published in English ,or find a better auto-translation tool to translate Chinese publication into English. The ones available freely are far from good enough by the way.

besides desk reserach, I agree that being able to to primary study, speaking the intervewees' language is a necessity; yet there are lots of cultural context to make it difficult for a westerner to do interview in Chinese. (I know some Japanese /Koreans speaking good Chinese and understand Chinese culture better though.) Just like even many ppl speak good English it is still the best for locals to do primary research. And even in analysis, more cultrual- historical backround will be much helpful

People in the West can stop obsessing about learning Chinese

The country’s official education ministry announced last week that only 70% of people in the country can be considered Mandarin speakers. Of that 70%, the ministry said, “only 10% are capable of communicating fluently” in the language. In short, you don’t have to be fluent in Mandarin to speak better than 93% of China.


Free Intel Collab Webinars

You might be interested in the next few IntelCollab webinars:

RECONVERGE Network Calendar of Events

© 2024   Created by Arik Johnson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service