Boris Johnson has said children in British schools should be taught Mandarin as standard.
The Mayor of London suggested Britons should be learning as much as possible about China as it continues to expand its influence globally.
Mr Johnson, who added that he was also learning Mandarin himself, spoke as he continued his six day trade mission in China.
When asked if children should be taught Mandarin as a standard part of the curriculum he said: "Why not? Absolutely. My kids are learning it so why not? Definitely, definitely."
He said this would enable children to grow up naturally knowing about China's importance.
On Monday he told university students in Beijing his 16-year-old daughter was learning Mandarin and was due to visit China next week.
Asked if Britain needed to improve its understanding of China, he said: “I think it's going to happen. 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.”
Mr Johnson added: “I love China. I think it's an extraordinary place and I think the more we learn about Chinese culture and the more we learn to appreciate it and to understand it, the better.”
His comments come in stark contrast to those he made in 2005, when he wrote in The Daily Telegraph that: "We do not need to teach our babies Mandarin [...] China will not dominate the globe".
He admitted that "some things I wrote ten years ago don't look entirely accurate now" adding that "we've got to get with the programme".Reuse content