BUENOS AIRES, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- When he decided to study Mandarin in his teens, Brian Gonzalez never dreamed of eventually becoming a major media influencer with millions of followers.
The 29-year-old Argentinean first gained popularity in China through participating in a television program, and over the years, he has accumulated more than 2 million followers on social networks such as Weibo and Bilibili.com, a Chinese video sharing website particularly popular among young people.
"When I was 15 years old, I started studying (Mandarin) at a high school here in the city of Buenos Aires and the truth is that I loved it from the first moment (...) Thanks to the fact that I had a very good teacher and that I liked the language, I achieved a good level and that allowed me to travel to China," Gonzalez told Xinhua.
Known in China as "Gong Biyang", Gonzalez has participated in a number of public-diplomatic events, and once acted as a translator for renowned Argentinean soccer player, Lionel Messi.
"At that time, they told me that Messi was a very shy person, and that I shouldn't treat him like a hero or an idol, because he would be self-conscious and he wasn't going to like it. So you can see that I made him feel comfortable, I made jokes and told him things about China, like that his wife was more famous than him in China, and he laughed," he said.
At the age of 15, Gonzalez won Argentina's Chinese Bridge (a contest on the mastery of the Chinese language), which earned him an eventual scholarship to study Chinese Philology at the Beijing International Studies University (BISU), where he later completed a master's degree in foreign trade.
According to Gonzalez, it was by pure chance that he became a media personality in China.
"I never imagined that I would be able to be in the media and that I would have followers. It was because a television channel planning to make a program with foreigners and they were looking for people from different universities, so they came to my university. I did the interview, I got selected and that's how I started," he said, adding that his experience has allowed him to share his country's culture with China.
Gonzalez is currently in a group of panelists on the "Informal Talks" program on Hubei TV, which targets young people and university students in China. During an episode, he appeared wearing a traditional Argentinean gaucho costume.
Mastering Mandarin has changed his view of the world. Since more and more Spanish-speaking young people have become interested in China, and vice-versa, there is a great opportunity to develop the relationship between China and Latin America. Enditem