Young Chinese language experts have gathered at the University to take part in the regional qualifying round of the All-Russian Chinese Bridge student contest.

Ms Liǔ Ruò Méi, the cultural attaché at the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in St Petersburg, stressed the fact that the contest is held in person for the first time after a three-year break. She also noted the special role of St Petersburg University in organising the event. The event was co-organised by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in St Petersburg with the assistance of the non-degree programme "Confucius Institute" at St Petersburg University.

‘St Petersburg University, the oldest centre for Chinese language studies in the Northwest, is famous for its special spirit of academism and achievements in Chinese studies. The University is an important bridge for humanitarian ties between Russia and China,’ said Ms Liǔ Ruò Méi, the cultural attaché at the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in St Petersburg. ‘I encourage students to participate more actively in the Chinese Bridge contest, using it as one of the measures of their success and an additional incentive to learn the language. The knowledge and experience gained will help you to become a force that will strengthen friendly China-Russia relations.’

The Chinese Bridge contest is an international project that aims to promote the Chinese language and culture. Winners of the contest are given the opportunity to study for free at top Chinese universities. To date, around one million people from more than a hundred countries have taken part in the contest.

Dmitrii Maiatskii, Associate Professor in the Department of Chinese Philology of St Petersburg University, Director of the non-degree programme "Confucius Institute" on the Russian side, said that the contest begins in the Guyu season ("grain rain") according to the Chinese lunar calendar. An ancient legend says that it was at this time five thousand years ago that the court historiographer Cangjie invented Chinese characters, and to mark this invention, the sky sent rain of grains to the Earth, saving people from hunger. Now, Chinese Language Day is celebrated around the world on 20 April to mark the occasion.

The prizes went to St Petersburg University students. Daria Oganesova, a student in the History of China academic programme, took first place and won in the Best Speech category. Kristina Bulatnikova, a student in the Chinese Philology academic programme, shared second place with Gleb Potapov, a student from the Saint Petersburg University of Economics, and was also awarded in the special category ‘Best Pronunciation’. Mikhail Liakhov, a student in the Chinese Philology academic programme, and Ekaterina Vodopianova, a student in the History of China academic programme, took third place together with Tatiana Kharchenko, a student from the Saint Petersburg University of Economics.

The regional round of the Chinese Bridge contest is held at the University for the 21st time.

Summing up the results of the contest, Tatiana Prutskikh, Chairperson of the jury, Head of the Department of Oriental Languages at the Saint Petersburg University of Economics, urged all foreign language learners to learn from their mistakes and cited a Chinese proverb as an example: ‘A thousand mile journey begins with the first step’.

Jury member Zhang Xunli, Director of Confucius School, noted the participants’ success in language learning and stressed that the speech of young sinologists from St Petersburg is notable for its grammatical and lexical complexity. ‘Students are not afraid to include literary works or works that require in-depth knowledge of Chinese culture in their numbers, such as performing dance numbers and even arias from Beijing opera,’ Zhang Xunli praised the contestants.

During the contest, the contestants had to: present a monologue on the theme "One World — One Family", defining the content of their speech themselves; demonstrate their creativity in a speech related to China or Chinese culture; and give an impromptu speech on a randomly selected topic.