“I follow in bits and pieces,” said the Hillsboro High School junior, who plans to study physical therapy in college and minor in international business.

It’s why he signed up for Introductory Mandarin Chinese, a course the school launched in the fall. Before that, Nelson tried to learn from books from the public library.

Although just 17 students are enrolled in the course, compared with 670 taking Spanish, Hillsboro is expanding its Chinese offerings next school year with a teacher from China, an exchange program and Skype sessions with Chinese professors.

For U.S. companies looking to conduct clinical trials of new drugs and medical devices, Brentwood resident Dr. R. Stephen Porter is pitching China as a lower-cost setting where the job can get done much more quickly.

His consulting company, Dragon Bio-Consultants Ltd., helps American drug companies license their products in China and Chinese companies to license products here by getting through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration process.

Ming Wang, MD, PhD
International president and co-owner, Shanghai Aier Eye Hospital (www.aier021.com)
Founding president, Tennessee Chinese Chamber of Commerce (www.tccc.us)

Clinical associate professor of ophthalmology, University of Tennessee
Director, Wang Vision Cataract and LASIK Center, Nashville, TN, USA

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- China is the country with the fastest growth, in clinical trials, from 2005 to 2008, the increase is 75%, in 3 years.

- There are nearly 2,000 registered trials in China today.

Associated Press - May 22, 2011 10:55 AM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - As Tennessee's economy shifts to businesses with ties to China, students as early as middle school are taking an interest in learning the language that could help their careers.

Tennessee industries export $1.87 billion in goods to China, a trend that is nationwide, and in response, more public schools are offering classes in Chinese language.

Ming Wang, MD, PhD
International president and co-owner, Shanghai Aier Eye Hospital (www.aier021.com)

Founding president, Tennessee Chinese Chamber of Commerce (www.tccc.us)

Clinical associate professor of ophthalmology, University of Tennessee 
Director, Wang Vision Cataract and LASIK Center, Nashville, TN, USA

2011 has ushered in a new era for China. In the past year, China has surpassed Japan to become the world’s #2 economy (second only to the U.S.), and to become the U.S.’ largest creditor. With a huge trade surplus with the U.S. (over $250 billion a year), an astoundingly rapidly growing economy, and a large population with an increasing demand for better goods and services, China has now also become the world’s largest, most exciting and attractive new market for goods and services produced from all over the world.