Schoolkids in a Portuguese shoe-making town are taking compulsory Mandarin lessons to prepare them to compete for business in the Chinese market when they grow up.
China is the world’s biggest producer of footwear, but rich Chinese are fond of Portuguese shoes, the second-most expensive after Italian. Shoe exports from Portugal to China soared from 10,000 pairs in 2011 to 170,000 pairs in 2013.
Sao Joao da Madeira, with only 20,000 residents, is regarded as the country’s shoe capital. It specializes in luxury footwear.
The eight- and nine-year-old children seem to enjoy learning Chinese and dream of visiting China.
“I would like to see the Great Wall,” Eduardo, 9, told AFP.
Chinese was “not particularly difficult”, his classmate Daniela said.
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