A professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) is confident that the Malay language which is spoken by over 300 million people, has its own strengths to become an important international language of communication.
Director of the Chinese-Malay Studies Centre at BFSU, Prof Dr Wu Zong Yu said in the economic, political and social context, Bahasa Melayu would become more important, particularly in the Asian region, with the completion of the proposed Asean railway project from Nanjing in China to Singapore.
"With that, I believe more people will be using Bahasa Melayu as a language of communication," he said when met by Bernama yesterday.
Earlier, Wu together with the holder of the BFSU Bahasa Melayu Centre chair, Prof Dr Mohd Taib Dora, welcomed the arrival of the Raja Muda of Perlis Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail, who is also Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) chancellor, when visiting Malaysian students studying at BFSU.
Also present was the Malaysian ambassador to China, Datuk Iskandar Sarudin.
Syed Faizuddin, who is also commander of the Regiment 504 of the Territorial Army based in Bukit Keteri Camp, Perlis is heading a delegation from the Reserve Officers Training Unit of seven public universities in Malaysia on an academic and strategic military working visit to the military camps and universities in Beijing from November 14 to 17.
According to Wu, the number of Bahasa Melayu speakers has been on the rise since the Chinese government placed importance on the language by establishing the Malay Studies Department at 10 universities since 1961.
He said BFSU had also increased the intake of Chinese students for Bahasa Melayu studies to 24 this year from 15, and the intake was done every two years.
Meanwhile, he said, 200 Malaysian students were studying for their degree in the Mandarin language at BSFU.
Syed Faizuddin, in his speech, called on the Malaysian students in China to be grateful, open-minded and to mix with the other international students and the local community.
During the delegation's visit, Malaysian students taking up Mandarin studies performed a dikir barat in Mandarin while Chinese students doing Malay studies sang a number of Malay songs and also performed a Malay dance.
Syed Faizuddin, who is also chairman of the Perlis Islamic Religion and Malay Custom Council (MAIPs), as well as chairman of Yayasan Tuanku Syed Putra (YTSP), handed over a contribution of RM1,000 each from MAIPs and YSTP to four Perlis-born students who are studying at BFSU.