If we implement in our educational system the language, we could be able to learn it just like any other language. Our generation has became a lazy-thinking generation, or I could say, we want to take the things as easy as possible. A way to develop our minds, is by doing challenging exercises, such as language learning. There's 500 million more people that speak Mandarin than English. So, what's the issue of learning it? We consider it difficult, because it's completely different than what we've learned since we developed the ability to reason and speak. We could make our future generations to improve better. Skepticism is an attitude that lead us to stay behind, culturally and personally. We should open up our minds to this possibility. And I should say, not only with Chinese, but with many other languages. They all have their importance.
Admittedly, the character system is very top heavy, useful for unifying the related languages and dialects across Asia though. However, As a learner of Chinese and a native English speaker, I have to say its a very, very simple language to speak, and as for the tones, there's only 4, and context clarifies most homophones. I began learning Spanish later on, and found its pronunciation and grammatical complexity a real challenge compared to Mandarin, although being a native English speaker there are obviously more cognates.
In terms of a spoken language, its inherent simplicity is an advantage, and the idea of it being "difficult" often refers to how different it is to European languages which is irrelevant if you put aside your eurocentric worldview for a second.
It may not be the national language of many countries, but the Chinese are not as interventionist as their English speaking hegemonic nation counterparts. However, even now in Singapore for example the importance of the languages is on par, in business, and it will extend throughout Asia with their continued economic rise.
The Chinese language is currently the most-spoken language in the world, with 1,343,755,000 speakers (first- and second-language speakers). English ranks second, with 508,000,000 speakers total. Granted, it isn't utilized as much in the Western world, but the Western world is not the only part of the entire globe. It's true that 88 countries (sovereign and non-sovereign included) have English as an official language, as compared to 5 countries having Chinese or a variant as an official language. However, many other countries with a strong Chinese presence also speak the language, if unofficially. Concerns about the Chinese language's writing difficulty are unfounded. Chinese isn't inherently difficult or harder to understand. To a native English speaker, of course Chinese will be hard. And to a native Chinese speaker, of course English will be hard. On the other hand, native Japanese speakers will learn Chinese with more ease than a native Spanish speaker., and a native Spanish speaker will learn English with much more ease than a native Chinese speaker.
Even on the Internet, where the Great Firewall of China makes a significant dent in Chinese internet activity, Chinese websites proliferate with new material every day. While China has some catching up to do culture-wise, with its greater number of speakers (more than 2x English speakers) and growing presence in the world, it isn't entirely impossible that Chinese will become the next English.
Chinese written language is ridiculously inefficient, illogical, and difficult to learn. It is a necessary evil for that part of the world in order for the Chinese to hold together what would otherwise be disparate regions with different "dialects" (actually wholly separate spoken languages).
It's amazingly effective for the region, and most people consider themselves to be Han Chinese as a result, as opposed to whatever region/dialect family they hail from. Regardless, such a language system would hardly be applicable or nearly as effective outside the region, unless it was accompanied by pronounced economic growth. Even then, I would imagine that the language will have to undergo a transformation before becoming accepted globally.
I believe that Spanish will (if another language ever DOES become the next english) would become the next english language because Spanish is a common language and it is written in words not symbols. Chinese symbols are very hard to draw and you can't read a symbol unless you know Chinese. I don't know much spanish but if I see something like ''fuego'', (which means fire btw) I can read it but when I see 我不知道這意味著什麼 I don't know how to read that.
It takes years for native Chinese to read Chinese, they learn several hundred characters year after year by heart in elementary school just to get to at most 2000 by age 12+. It' so inefficient that some educated retired business people I know have troubles reading the news because they do not write Chinese anymore on a daily basis. Let's not forget either that Chinese was also deliberately made difficult in order to clearly segregate people socially and they've have done a good job at it, there are millions of illiterate people in China and tons more who barely can recognize 2 thousand words tops. The reason Koreans invented the alphabet is specifically to democratize learning and literacy and guess what....It works. Did they lose their identity or culture? Yeah apparently, Gangnam style is only the most seen video on Youtube, Korean drama and K-pop stars are only like the biggest celebrities in Asia and except for Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li (who are freaking amazing by the way) Korean stars are the almost the only ones who are known across the Pacific...(there are of course other socio-economic variables explaining the successful exports of Korean culture abroad but the point was that Koreans did not lose their Seoul : ) by moving from inefficient scribbles to a logical alphabet).
If the Chinese were more worldly and less brainwashed to believe in the godly aspect of their communist party and country they would understand that the supreme stupidity of their written language is probably one of the main factors explaining why they will never (yes I'm making a strong claim, it probably deserves some moderation but some thought also) have any cultural domination outside of their country. Additionally the very high end educated Chinese people I know mainly agree with my points but they benefit from their own system so they obviously have no incentive to change it, which is understandable at an individual level. It is funny to see though that the lower you go socially the more they will fight for their language and think you're racist and what not because they are just plain unable to think... But that's not even the point, if Chinese had an alphabet and a decent amount of logics to its written language I'd love to learn some (and I'm pretty sure many more millions also would) because they do have a deep interesting and rich culture to offer to the world but frankly it is below my opportunity cost of time to even start and specifically because it is precisely their ancestral scribbling system that is almost single handedly not going to enable this language to become a 21st century relevant language. I'll go Habla Espanol instead....
Do you think that a Dutch company for example doing business with a Turkish partner, or a Bulgarian company dealing with a business partner from Uruguay would EVER conduct their communication in Chinese? English is simple and it is mandatory second/foreign language in most elementary schools in a number of European, South American and African countries. How many countries have Chinese as mandatory second/foreign language in their schools?
The Chinese may have one of the largest populations on the planet Earth, but the majority of people still speak languages derived from Latin. Even people that don't speak the same romance language, can figure out the same root syntax of speech. Chinese is far different, and too complex to become the primary language on the planet. Though, it may have more chance for expression than any of the romance languages.
There are more Chinese learning English in China than those who speak it as a first language in the United States. How many are learning Chinese in the U.S.? Or in other countries for that matter? English has won the battle in the all corners of the world and will continue to do so. It's much simpler than Chinese or most other languages for that matter.
Although the spoken language is quite easy, the written language is a practical nightmare. Non-native speakers can begin sharing English thoughts in their first week. Not so with Chinese. Also, English is already not only widely used in North America and Europe, but also in South Asia and the Middle East.
The Chinese language is far too difficult for widespread westerners to learn (in terms of tone, characters etc). There is a potential advancement of dropping characters and adopting Pinyin fully, however with tones this is equally complicated. Furthermore, the world is in a different era then when English spread across the entire globe. With the empirical days, Britain colonised a vast swathe of the globe, and became the number one trading economy. The combined effect of complete economical power, control of the seas, and ownership of foreign countries allowed Britain to enforce English as the number 1 language (over Spanish). China, however, will never be able to install their language as they are merely relying on the economical strength, which is not great enough. Furthermore, their economy and culture is insulated in it's nature, therefore Chinese will never become the next global language.