Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said it should be more commonplace for schools to teach their pupils Mandarin.
A survey carried out earlier this year by the British Council and HSBC revealed just three per cent of primary teachers and nine per cent of secondary teachers said their school offers Mandarin lessons.
Speaking in Beijing during a six-day trade mission, Mr Johnson has asserted Mandarin should be taught as a mainstream language as part of the curriculum, so that the UK can better exploit its relationship with China as its economic influence continues to expand.
He said he expected Britons to take an increasing interest in China, arguing: "Human beings are very smart, we will gradually realise that this is the thing we need to know and so you're going to find kids in our city, in London, growing up thinking, 'Yeah, China, got to know about that', and they'll learn."
A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman told the Daily Mail the government is encouraging a languages revival in schools, with entries for Chinese GCSEs rising by 20 per cent this year.
DfE figures show 3,400 pupils took GCSE Mandarin in 2012, while one in four secondary schools had at least 11 pupils studying for this qualification.
Posted by Alan Douglas