Vagahau Niue is one of the Pacific island languages that will be taught at a Chinese university.
The ambitious Pacific Island Country language-teaching program in China will be offered at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, known for teaching the largest number of foreign languages compared with other Chinese universities.
This was revealed in a research by the Australian National University’s development policy blog.
It states this is part of efforts to facilitate the rollout of the Chinese Government’s Belt and Road Initiative in those Pacific Island Countries with which China has diplomatic relations.
While the teaching has the potential to promote China’s understanding of the region, the sustainability of teaching languages with relatively few speakers is in question.
Approved by China’s Ministry of Education in 2017, Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) started to advertise new four-year bachelor’s courses on seven Pacific languages including Bislama, Cook Islands Māori, Fijian, Niuean, Samoan, Tok Pisin and Tongan.
These languages cover all of China’s eight diplomatic partner states in the Pacific.
The formal teaching is expected to start soon.
BCN News had contacted Niue’s Education Department’s Director Birtha Togahai about this initiative however she says that they have not received much correspondence from China about this.