BEIJING: Two universities in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will add Urdu and Farsi (Persian) to their undergraduate curriculum.

The Shihezi University and Xinjiang Normal University based in Urumqi are setting up Urdu and Farsi departments, respectively, and will start enrolling students nationwide this summer, according to a Shihezi University press release issued on Monday.

In 2013, Pakistan and China started building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a 3,000km network of roads, railways and pipelines linking Xinjiang’s Kashgar area and the Gwadar port.

Farsi is the official language in Iran and Tajikistan and a major language in Afghanistan.

Currently only six universities in China offer Farsi as a major, producing around 500 people proficient in the language. Xinjiang’s increasing cooperation in trade and counterterrorism measures with Farsi-speaking countries required more advanced language learners, the press release said.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2017

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