30% Chinese citizens can't speak Mandarin

BEIJING, Sept 5 (Bernama) -- About 30 percent of the Chinese population or 400 million citizens cannot speak Mandarin, Xinhua news agency reported.

Xu Mei, spokeswoman from the Ministry of Education, said although the remainder of 1.3 billion Chinese can communicate in Mandarin or "putonghua," a large number do not speak it well.

"The country still needs to invest in promoting Mandarin," Xu said at a press conference on Thursday.

The government has been holding a campaign to promote Mandarin in the third week of September every year since 1998.

This year, the ministry will focus on the remote countryside and areas inhabited by ethnic minorities to promote the language.