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Chinese is not only one of the oldest living languages, but it is also a major world language spoken across the globe by over one billion people. As the New Zealand population diversifies, Chinese is becoming a major language in this country while remaining highly important for trade and tourism. For some ākonga, the history and very look of its written characters are fascinating, while for others it is a chance to stay in touch with their own family background. This subject focuses on both spoken and written modern standard Chinese (Mandarin), which is used throughout China, Singapore and Taiwan. It also explores the culture of Chinese-speaking countries.