Communication is challenging because Chinese and English are completely different. Why do we expect him to do a better job learning Chinese than the Chinese developers did of learning English, even though they had a lot more incentive to do so?
The point you are missing, is the respect you get for respecting the other guys culture. Learning a language, especially one as far apart from English as Mandarin, is getting to know a foreign culture. Also you get to understand the structure of your own language much better.
A high percentage of americans, in my experience, suffer from a very narrow minded view on culture. Not from caracter or personality, but from lack of exposure.
So he should either go for
- Mandarin for demograhpic reasons. I am finding more an more C.S. research papers, where only the abstract is in English (my 2nd Lang.) and the rest is in Mandarin.
- Korean if you are gamer ;-)
- Japanese if you are into all that budo stuff.
I would stay away from Hindi or Urdu. It is my understanding, that speaking english in India is considered cultured, but my original point about culture would probably still hold. Mandarin, btw, used to be the language of cultured people all through indo-china as well (dont know about now), as was French in Germany and German in Russia at one time in the past.