Mark Zuckerberg was at the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing on Wednesday, a school for which he is now on the advisory board. As a panel with him opened, Zuckerberg amazed the crowd by speaking in Mandarin.
Though most attendees agreed that the Facebook CEO hardly has a fluent command of the language, it was still impressive enough to receive a few accolades.
Foreign Policy gave him a mixed review:
A Westerner speaking Mandarin in China -- at any level -- tends to elicit joy from average Chinese, who seem to appreciate the effort and respect they feel learning Mandarin demonstrates. As in the United States, Zuckerberg is a huge star in China, and the audience responded positively to his speech. And to be fair, it was impressive and brave for him to try.
That's on the good side. Then there's this:
It's hard to describe in English what Zuckerberg's Mandarin sounded like, but I'd put it roughly at the level of someone who studied for two years in college, which means he can communicate like an articulate 7-year-old with a mouth full of marbles.
Zuckerberg began studying Mandarin in 2010, to more easily communicate with his wife's family. Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan, is a first generation Chinese-American.