A Bejing university will introduce courses in Tongan language according to China’s Shanghai Daily.

It said the Tongan languages class was among 11 language courses which included African and Oceanianic tongues, to boost support for the country’s ties with the regions.

Beijing Foreign Studies University is to offer Kurdish, Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Comorian, Tswana, Ndebele, Creole, Shona, Tigrinya and Belarusian courses to undergraduates, the paper has reported.

The languages are used in west Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean, Africa, and eastern Europe, regions sharing closer ties with China under the Belt and Road initiative aimed at bringing investment, infrastructure and interconnectivity to ancient trade routes.

On Monday, New Zealand, where Maori is an official language, signed a memorandum of understanding with China on the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Chinese proficient in local languages and cultures are lacking in some participating countries of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Guo Wei, an official in the university’s publicity department. “The university is helping to equip more students with language skills and knowledge of regional affairs to meet the demand.”

The university will be setting up more language majors, especially those used by countries along the Belt and Road, Guo said.

The university now has 84 language majors and plans to increase it to more than 100 in 2020, covering all countries that have diplomatic relations with China.

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