Prime Minister Howard and Comrade Kevin Rudd both seemed eager to please Chinese President Hu Jintao at a reception last night. Rudd even greeted a delighted Chinese delegation in Mandarin. It showed that Australia’s Prime Minister-in-waiting knows the language of Australia’s most important economic ally/strategic adversary.
For all we know, Rudd was ordering sweet and sour chicken with small fried rice. It sounded good, though. And it does show you that times are changing.
When Napoleon’s Empire spread from the Atlantic coast of Spain to the outskirts of Moscow, French became the lingua franca and the language of international diplomacy. It was the language of Empire, as France was the world’s imperial power. The military rise of Great Britain in the 19th century and the United States in the 20th century made English the language of business (and of Empire).
Will Mandarin ever be the language of business? Or of Empire? It’s all Greek to us, but kudos to Rudd.
Markets and Money
What do you think will be the next language of business? Or of empire? Leave a comment below.