When I began learning Chinese at age twenty-one, I was encouraged to discover that every character has a "radical", a component which communicates meaning. Characters containing the "three dots", for example, denote something to do with water. River and lake , wash and rinse , and sweat and tears all contain the water radical on the left.
"Cataclysmic" is how I describe the impact I foresee of the recent decision of Beijing's educational establishment to allow HSK test takers to type instead of write.
"HSK" stands for hanyu shuiping kaoshi (). Beginning in 1992, the HSK tests Chinese proficiency just as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) tests English proficiency. Revised in 2009, it's now called the "New HSK."
The study of Chinese as a second language is exploding around the globe, yet few Westerners today read, write and speak Chinese fluently. No wonder native speakers often say, with a certain satisfaction, their language is tai nan xue, "too hard to learn."