The number of British schools, universities and colleges offering Mandarin must increase if the UK is to play a part in a world dominated by China, according to Tesco's chairman David Reid.
Speaking to an audience of young people in Edinburgh last week, Mr Reid said if they wanted to make themselves "highly employable", they should increase their understanding of China. "As China continues to grow, so will our mutual interests," he said. "The mistake would be to imagine that we in Britain - and Scotland - don't have a stake in China's future. We have the biggest stake imaginable."
Mr Reid said that only 10 per cent of UK schools offered courses in Mandarin, with 196 Chinese courses available at UK universities. In comparison, there were 1,711 university courses for French language or French combined with other subjects; 1,468 for Spanish; 1,358 for German and 768 for Italian.
He made his comments in a speech entitled "China - Why Care?" to the 48 Group Club Young Icebreakers, the junior arm of the 48 Group Club, successors of the visionary "Icebreakers" who led the way in trading with the new China in the 1950s.