FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Forget the romance languages. If you really want your child to be ready for the future, you might want him to crack open some Chinese language textbooks.
As President Obama meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House this week, there are more reasons than ever to believe China holds the key to all of our futures.
For starters, China owns us – or soon will, as they continue to snap up U.S. treasury bonds. China is now the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, just under $900 billion.
The Chinese also have a significant financial stake in many other countries around the world. It was reported this week that China has lent more money to developing countries in the past two years than the World Bank.
Then there's their military expansion – Chinese military spending is up 12% in the last decade.
A Chinese-developed stealth fighter jet recently took its first flight. They've also created a long-range missile that could hit U.S. ships in the pacific. And, they're building their first aircraft carrier to launch missions far off China's coast.
There's more: Beijing has become an integral player in nearly every major international issue, from the standoffs with North Korea and Iran to global warming.
In fact, one top NASA scientist says that China is the world's "best hope" in the fight against global warming. He says that our democracy – including lobbying dollars from the fossil fuel industry – makes it impossible for the U.S. to confront global warming.
Here’s my question to you: If you were the parent of a small child, would you make him/her learn Chinese?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Jen in New York writes:
I am the parent of a 6-year-old who attends 1st grade at a private school in New York. She and her fellow students study Mandarin five days a week from 1st through 6th grades. It is not optional. I'm thinking of taking classes myself, just so I'll know what they're up to when they start chatting with each other in Chinese.
Pete in Georgia writes:
Dream on, Jack. The average American kid can't even speak English properly, and you're asking them to learn Chinese? Yeah, right.
Jeff in South Riding, Virginia writes:
Our 8-year old is already fluent in Chinese. His grandparents and great aunts and uncles on his mother's side live in China and he talks with them regularly on Skype. He also attends Chinese school on the weekends to learn to read and write the language. We hope this will improve his chances of competing in the world when he grows up.
Jay in Pennsylvania writes:
There is no need at all. Most Chinese kids today learn English starting in elementary school. Everywhere you go in China, you can find college graduates who are fluent in English and who have studied overseas in Western countries. Chinese people know that English is still the most widely spoken language in the world. American kids should devote their time and energy to improve their other subjects such as math and physics.
Pat in Michigan writes:
If I were going to raise a child in these times, I would definitely encourage my children to learn Chinese. Our daughter learned German, Spanish and Latin and teaches all three. In the new world economy, communication is key.
When I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics, I believed my then 6-year-old daughter better start learning Mandarin.
Ryan in New Brunswick, New Jersey writes:
I for one welcome having children and adults learn Mandarin or Cantonese. That way Hollywood will stop dubbing martial arts films and we can enjoy them in their native tongue.