Chinese Language Day

Language Days at the United Nations seek to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization. Under the initiative, UN duty stations around the world celebrate six separate days, each dedicated to one of the Organization's six official languages.

The date for the Chinese day was selected from Guyu ("Rain of Millet"), which is the 6th of 24 solar terms in the traditional East Asian calendars, to pay tribute to Cangjie. Cangjie is a very important figure in ancient China, claimed to be an official historian of the Yellow Emperor and the inventor of Chinese characters. Legend has it that he had four eyes and four pupils, and that when he invented the characters, the deities and ghosts cried and the sky rained millet. From then on, Chinese people celebrate the day Guyu in honour of Cangjie. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around April 20.

Chinese at the UN

Chinese was established as an official language of the United Nations in 1946. However, in early years, Chinese was not commonly used in the work of the United Nations. The situation was improved after restoration of the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations in 1971. In 1973, the General Assembly included Chinese as a working language, which was followed by the Security Council in 1974. More and more UN offices and staff members work with Chinese language.

Scheduled Events

Two events will be hosted on the UN Headquarters premises in New York to celebrate this year’s Chinese Language Day: celebrations on 20 April 2017 organized by Chinese Book Club, and Chinese Evening on 3 May presented by the UN Chinese Language Programme.