Is Chinese arguably the toughest language in the world for a westerner to master?

Half yes half no.
If you get to know the Cantonese, which you can say it is Chinese, but more difficult.

The left one is the meaning.
The middle one is how its write in cantonese. (Which is bigger in size)
The right one is how its pronounce in cantonese. Or in simple form.
The hardest one is the actual form. But in communication, we usually use simple form instead.

Don’t worry. We don’t have to study these characters. Or else, more people will commit suidcide.

The left one is how its write in cantonese.
The middle one is how its pronounce in cantonese.
The right one is the meaning.

Nowadays, messaging in cantonese is uncommon. You might see some of it, still in Doyin(Mainland China version of Tiktok) or some communicating application.
But its getting less frequent.
With the new education bureau department head in Hong kong, announcing that she greatly support using putonghua/Mandarin to teach Cantonese. I am not sure if teachers will teach it still. As this is not a must for them to learn. Worth us to watch how it ends. Newer generation might forgot it as it is too difficult.

Possibly, you might be able to see a language that once used by billions of people, disappear from the public sight.

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