Thirty-four secondary school students from across New Zealand showed off their Chinese proficiency in the annual Chinese Bridge competition held on Aug 8.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 15 junior high school students and 19 senior high school students participated in the 14th Chinese Bridge Chinese proficiency competition for secondary school students via video link.
Hosted by Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury, the theme of the contest was "fly high with Chinese".
Dong Zhixue, education counselor at the Chinese embassy in New Zealand, said at the opening ceremony that the Chinese teaching program this year has been facing a lot of difficulties due to border closures that prevent the arrival of more Chinese language teachers. However, students have still made lots of progress, as indicated by the number and quality of contestants in this year's competition.
Dong encourages Chinese learners to become "friendly ambassadors of China-New Zealand people-to-people exchanges", making positive contributions to promoting China-NZ educational exchanges and enhancing friendship between the two countries.
Chinese Consul General Wang Zhijian says the Chinese proficiency level of the students has been increasing year by year.
"Learning Chinese well will not only open doors to China's long and rich history and culture, as well as help make friends with 1.4 billion Chinese people, but will also enable you to become successful in your career development," Wang says, adding that China is the biggest trade partner of more than 120 countries and regions, including New Zealand.
Andrew Turner, deputy mayor of Christchurch, says despite current restrictions, the relationship between China and New Zealand is growing in tourism, education, trade, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
"There will definitely be big opportunities in the future for people who have the skills to build bridges between New Zealand and China," Turner says.