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400 Million Chinese Can't Speak Mandarin and Beijing Is Worried

400 Million Chinese Can't Speak Mandarin and Beijing Is Worried
Photograph by Peter Parks/Getty Images

Sure a lot of people speak Mandarin—also known as Putonghua, China’s official language—but it’s still not enough, say education officials.

About 30 percent of China’s 1.3 billion population, 400 million people, can’t communicate in Mandarin, according to Li Weihong, director of the State Language Commission, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Sept. 21. Include only those who speak the official dialect fluently, and the number shrinks further.