The article makes an attempt to comprehend the cognitive-semantic approach to the Chinese language in the framework of its teaching and study in higher education, taking into account features contrasting to the Russian language. The main theoretical postulates of the Chinese language-study were formulated by the Russian sinologists in line with formal structural paradigms based on materials of Western languages and their level of language organization. This approach is reflected in most Chinese language textbooks. In this regard, the Chinese language is taught according to the patterns of teaching Western languages. This approach does not allow to fully master the language, as it does not take into account the semantic and cognitive disproportion of the basic units of languages.