There are calls for Chinese to be taught at Leaving Cert level in Ireland after yesterday's green light for the Euro-Chinese trading hub in Co Westmeath.
An Bord Pleanala yesterday passed the first phase of the project.
Bigger than Dublin’s Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown shopping centres put together, the overall exhibition centre is reckoned to be the largest development built in Ireland.
The €175m first phase of the hub at Creggan, near Athlone, will be a base for Chinese companies to promote trade and commerce with Europe and the rest of the world.
The site will employ 1,530 people after an initial boost of 1,200 construction jobs.
Director of the Confucius Centre at UCD Dr Liming Wang said speaking Chinese would be an important part of business life in the future.
"Chinese is now arguably the most important language in the world," he said.
"It is now spoken by 1.3 billion people in China and 50 million people around the world are learning Chinese as a foreign language."