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Ease of learning.
it's a myth that all languages are equally difficult to learn. I'm not denying that there are ethnic Chinese who know English well, but they are usually part of the middle to upper classes who have had better than average educational opportunities, or the exceptional case of a Chinese who for whatever reason fell in loive with the language and was prepared to invest a tremendous amout of time learning it.|
Now if you compare it ot Esperanto, I learned Esperanto on my own, without any teacher, in little more than a year to fluency, and I also have Chinese friends who were able to teach themselves in less than three years, with only a book and a dictionary as a teacher.
And as for the ethnic element, the idea is now so rooted in the Chinese psyche (again, I acknowledge there are some exceptions) that one must be white and speak with speak with a standard Canadian, American or British accent that it would take a tremendous effort on the part of Chinese society to uproot it entirely. Not to mention that since almost all Chinese learn English, but few learn other languages. As a result, their ideas of other ethnic, religious, national and racial groups becomes primarily defined by hollywood, thus compounding the current prejudice found in association with the English language in China.
As for Esperanto, however, Esperanto music CDs, movies, books etc are from around the world, with a relatively evenly spread cultural distribution compared to that of English, which still presents a very Anglocentric view of the world. Also, because Esperanto is much easier to learn, if I speak on the phone with a Chinese Esperanto speaker, we can both speak it like a mother tongue, and in fact I can't even tell the difference between my accent and his.
In addition to that, a Chinese person speaking Esperanto is more likely to be accepted by certain communities. For example, immagine that Japanese was the world language instead of English, and some countries required it in their schools. Understandably many Chinese would rather speak any language other than Japanese. English can prvoke a similar reaction in some countries for various political or historical reasons, whereas Esperanto has never really been overly political or confontational against any culture thus far.