Hotel reverses Chinese-only order on Tibetan employees after online storm

A poster in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture reads “No to mixed language!” (Photo courtesy: RFA)
A poster in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture reads “No to mixed language!” (Photo courtesy: RFA)

(, Jan10’16) – An apparently Chinese hotel in a Tibetan county in Qinghai province was forced to reverse a Jan 7 order which required all its Tibetan employees to speak only in Chinese while at work after it resulted in a storm of online protests, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jan 8. The Shang Yon hotel in Rebgong (Chinese: Tongren) County of Malho (Huangnan) Prefecture was reported to have imposed a fine of 500 yuan (about $76) on those who would violate the order.

The online protests from Tibetans as well as criticisms even from Chinese people compelled the local authorities to order a temporary closure of the hotel. This led to the hotel reversing its order. The criticisms were said to have been voiced mainly on the popular China-based social media platform WeChat.

The report said the hotel on Jan 8 cited cultural privileges of ethnic minorities granted by China’s policy while issuing a public apology for its anti-Tibetan language order.

Apart from outrage expressed by Tibetans over the order, a number of Chinese were also reported to have criticised the hotel’s policy.

“Whoever promoted this policy of using only Chinese should be held accountable for violating human rights and damaging ethnic unity,” a netizen named ‘shanshen pelyun’, was quoted as saying.

“It is not too much to ask for ethnic groups to have equal rights and the freedom to use their own languages,” Liu Benqi, a Han Chinese living in Qinghai, was reported to have agreed. “I don’t support the policy of promoting Mandarin Chinese [in ethnic minority areas].”

But the hotel’s order banning the use of Tibetan language came in the backdrop of China having launched a crackdown in recent years on voluntary efforts by Tibetans to promote their language and culture among their own people. Against large-scale Tibetan protests, China has been pushing the introduction of Chinese as the only medium of teaching all the subjects in the Tibetan schools, with Tibetan being restricted to be taught only as a language subject.


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