Mandatory Mandarin in Panama

News is out today that pretty soon, Panamanians will be bilingual in Spanish and Mandarin. The National Assembly has conditionally approved a bill requiring all schools to teach Mandarin, a nod to the sheer power of China’s economy.

China is the biggest user of the Panama Canal, and the bill states that Mandarin is an “indispensable language,” though it recognizes English is the international language of business. Curiously the country also holds diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

There’s been a lot of coverage lately about eclectic countries all seeing a huge boom in Chinese tutoring and classes. Here’s a great article from a colleague from the TIME Beijing bureau who wrote about this phenomenon.