ULAN BATOR, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Bold, a shopping guide, engages customers in fluent Chinese at a cashmere store in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator.
The 22-year-old man had never imagined that the decision his parents made for him to study Chinese as an elective in middle school could help him find a lucrative job.
"Studying Chinese as a second language became a trend in Mongolia a decade ago," Bold said. "One reason was that learners had more opportunities for higher scholarships sponsored by Chinese-funded companies and charity institutions."
A good command of Chinese has resulted in some Mongolians nabbing high-paying jobs, a skill that has come in handy with the rising number of Chinese tourists in Mongolia.
China has been the largest market for Mongolian tourism over the years. Statistics show that Mongolia received nearly 530,000 foreign tourists last year, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. More than 30 percent of the tourists were from China.
China is also Mongolia's second largest source of foreign investment. As of April 2019, Chinese investment in Mongolia totaled 4.8 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for some 30 percent of Mongolia's total foreign investment.
Chinese-backed companies create more jobs for the locals and provide higher salaries than average to attract talent.
The practical value of the Chinese language continues to rise in Mongolia.
Twenty-four-year-old Chasina found a job last year at Ulan Bator's largest beverage packaging manufacturer backed by Chinese investors.
She had studied for four years in Jinan University in China's Guangdong Province and has a strong command of Chinese as well as skills in logistics management.
"Higher-paid work that is busy is my favorite," she said. "Just like me, many of my friends in Mongolia would like to work for Chinese-funded companies."
The enthusiasm among Mongolian students to master the Chinese language is rising.
"We had only a few dozen students learning Chinese in 2007 when the Confucius Institute was founded, and today the number has surged to more than 5,000," said Zhu Junli, dean of the Confucius Institute at the National University of Mongolia.
Ulan Bator No. 23 Middle School offers Russian, English, Korean, Chinese and German courses. Roughly one-third of the school's 3,000 students chose to learn Chinese.
"I'm delighted to see that more and more Mongolian people are learning Chinese," said Li Wei, cultural counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Mongolia. "They are becoming bridges of friendly exchanges between China and Mongolia."