How an intense Mandarin lesson at Shrivenham helped a British Army Major roll out the red carpet for the President of China.
The attention to detail to every aspect of the President of China’s visit to Britain has been impressive – not least the Guards Officer who gave the order for the President to inspect the Guard of Honour in Mandarin on Tuesday (20 October).
The Captain of the Guard of Honour, Major Benjamin Jesty, had learnt the phrase after an intense one-to-one Chinese lesson at the Defence Academy’s Defence Centre for Languages and Culture (DCLC).
His exact words were: "The Guard of Honour of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards is present, formed up and ready for your inspection, sir." (or in Mandarin: 晚上好主席，我以卫兵的荣誉来接受您的检阅。请检阅部队。)
The Guardsman’s instructor at the DCLC, Jade Huang, explained: “He did a good job – and you could see the President smile when he delivered the line. He must have practiced a lot.
“Lots of people say Mandarin is difficult, due to the characters. But he had two weeks to learn the sentence, and he took away a recording so I'm sure he will have rehearsed a lot.”
The DCLC delivers over forty languages for military linguists and Defence Attaches, with students from all three Services and across all ranks. At present there is one British Army student learning Mandarin on a 16-month long course in preparation for a posting to Beijing.
President of China with Major Benjamin Jesty
Jade Huang, DCLC instructor