Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Ninth UN Chinese Language Day on Friday at UN headquarters in New York. (HONG XIAO/CHINA DAILY)
The reach of the Chinese language is expanding with each passing year.
Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said that nowadays, an increasing number of diplomats and UN staff are learning Chinese and familiarizing themselves with Chinese culture.
"Over 10 million people follow the UN on Chinese social media such as Weibo and WeChat," he said.
Wu spoke during the UN's ninth Chinese Language Day on Friday at its headquarters in New York.
This year's celebrations included lectures on Chinese culture and poetry, film screenings, workshops on Chinese calligraphy, ink and wash painting and tea-making, panel discussions on education, art exhibitions and traditional Chinese musical instrument performances.
The various activities drew UN staff and diplomats from across the world, who showed a great interest in Chinese culture and language.
At the opening ceremony, Liu Zhenmin, UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, said that as one of the six official languages of the UN, the importance of Chinese is rising with China's economic growth and increasing involvement in global affairs.
"Let's work together to promote Chinese to play a more active role in the daily work of the UN; to better deliver the voice and the messages of the UN to the world; to win more support for world peace and development," he added.
Wu also mentioned in his remarks that as the UN is the most universal, representative and authoritative intergovernmental organization in today's world, China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the world's largest developing country.
"Maintaining world peace and promoting common development are our shared goals," he said.
Established in 2010 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Chinese Language Day is observed annually on April 20, celebrating the language's contribution to the world while encouraging more people to learn it.
April 20 was chosen as the date roughly corresponding to Guyu, which means "Grain Rain" or "Rain of Millet" in Chinese. The Guyu is the sixth of the 24 solar terms in the traditional lunar calendar, the day when farmers start sowing.
And Chinese people use the tradition to celebrate Guyu (which usually begins around April 20) to pay tribute to Cangjie, a mythical figure who is presumed to have invented Chinese characters about 5,000 years ago.