There's little doubt in the minds of experts that China is well on its way to becoming a formidable world power. Since they launched basic market reforms in the late 1970s, their economy has quadrupled in size. They have quickly become a major center for manufacturing, industry and technology.
Few can argue that anything the Chinese put their minds to can be accomplished in very little time. One only has to look at the meteoric rise of their space program and ambitious goals to land a man on the moon to see that they are ready to become a modern world power, not only economically, but technologically as well.
This shouldn't be too surprising, given the fact that China has always been an innovative, forward-thinking country. While the specter of Communism in modern China still sways our opinions, China has given us thousands of years of innovation, invention and progress, from printing and gunpowder to rocketry and paper.
In the late 70s, even the basic philosophies of Communism were reinvented by Chinese leaders who began focusing on growing a market-driven economy to compete with other world economic powers.
Today, China's population of educated consumers is a veritable bonanza for smart business people in the West who want to expand their market share and tap new streams of customers. In fact, China's population of 400 million people aged 20 to 39 dwarfs the same demographic in all of Western Europe (110 million). This segment of the population thrives on business entrepreneurship and is eager to work hard. They are, perhaps, China's greatest asset and your greatest opportunity.
While many Chinese do speak English, or at least some English, it is not only polite, but also proper, to be able to speak Chinese when dealing with residents of China. This demonstrates respect for their culture and customs, which is very important to the Chinese people.
Thankfully, it's relatively easy these days to learn Chinese online. Thanks to the development of Simplified Chinese, a businessperson only needs to learn between 3,000 and 4,000 characters to have a fairly good command of the language. For those people willing to tackle even more of the language, a well-educated Chinese person typically has 6,000 to 7,000 characters in their vocabulary.
If you want to learn Chinese online, you'll find plenty of resources. One of the best ways, however, to learn Chinese online, is from a native speaker. They can help you with the pronunciation so that your Chinese is not only fluent, but also perfect.
One site offering native speakers is Mando Mandarin (http://www.mandomandarin.com). Their instructors are all Chinese. When you learn Chinese online from Mando Mandarin, you can rest assured that your vocabulary, pronunciations and word usage are spot-on. Nothing's worse than trying to demonstrate your command of a foreign language, only to find out that your word selection was incorrect. In many cases, it can be downright embarrassing to both you and the person you are trying to do business with.
If you are planning to tap into the China market - particularly the younger entrepreneurs who are looking for opportunities with Western partners - you'll want to be sure that you learn Chinese online with a reputable company. After all, there's no reason to let language be a barrier to opportunity in a global economy.