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Park speaks Chinese for 4 minutes in university speech


President Park Geun-hye delivered a speech in both Korean and Chinese at Tsinghua University on Saturday, speaking Chinese for 20 percent of the 20-minute speech.

The South Korean president kicked off her friendship address in Chinese with a saying from the ancient classic Guanzi, and then delivered the main thesis in Korean before she again spoke in Chinese to bid her wishes in front of more than 400 people including Liu Yandong, the Chinese Vice Premier.

Before Park embarked on her four-day visit to China, the language she would use during the stay was at the heart of discussions. 

Among the three options including Chinese, Korean, and both Chinese and Korean, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs constantly insisted on using Korean, arguing that Chinese is not a “universal language” and the venue of her speech is at a university, not an assembly.

Others expressed concerns over using Chinese during her visit, as the president delivered a full speech in English at U.S. Congress on May 8, saying another full speech in a foreign language may dull the strong ties the nation has established with the U.S. 

“The reason for Park’s compromise with the language might be related to being conscious of our conventional relationship with the U.S.,” said Kim Heung-kyu, a Chinese politics professor at Sungshin Women’s University.

Park stressed on building a “mature and substantial partnership” with China and her vision of peace with the North during the speech. Her friendly approach and a good command of Chinese are generating positive responses in the local media.

From news report