(TibetanReview.net, Apr12’23) – Undaunted by mass protests across the region in Aug 2020, China has ordered all schools in Inner Mongolia to switch to Mandarin-medium teaching and slash Mongolian language classes by Sep 2023, reported the Mandarin Service of rfa.org Apr 11. An exile group has accused China of carrying out cultural “genocide” in the supposedly autonomously-governed region.
The regional education bureau ordered schools at every level to implement “teaching in our national Mandarin language” and to ensure high-schoolers are proficient in the language, even if they speak Mongolian at home, the report said.
In a campaign already familiar across the Tibetan Plateau, regional officials have said at a meeting in late Mar 20223 that schools must “build Chinese national consciousness and community, and deepen education in national unity”.
China is carrying out a Sinicization campaign all its so-called autonomously governed ethnic minority regions. Rights activists have said China’s “national unity” programmes have led to forced intermarriage between majority Han Chinese and Uyghurs and Tibetans, as well as other attempts to erase ethnic identity and autonomy.
New York-based Southern Mongolia Human Rights and Information Center has published an audio recording of school officials telling parents at the Hohhot No. 30 High School that they must “firmly inculcate a common, Chinese national identity” into the region’s six million ethnic Mongolians.
“New details leaked from a covert recording confirm … a comprehensive ban of Mongolian language instruction across the [region will] be fully effective starting Sep 1, 2023,” the group has said.
“Under a directive from the central government, all Mongolian schools across the region will use Mandarin as the language of instruction starting Sep 1 this year,” the official was stated to be heard saying, adding that the policy will be rolled out at the No. 30 High School from May 1.
As a part of this Sinicization programme, all ethnic Mongolian students will soon be required to take the college entrance exams in Chinese, rather than Mongolian, starting in 2025.
“From what is happening to the Uyghurs and what is happening to the Mongolians and Tibetans, it is apparent that the Chinese authorities are engaging in different forms of genocide campaigns on multiple fronts,” the group’s director Enghebatu Togochog has said.
“[The] goal is the same: to wipe out the language, culture and identity of these three peoples and [to convert them to a] ‘Chinese’ nationality,” he has said.
Calling the policy highly aggressive, Germany-based Chinese activist Xi Haiming has said, “(Chinese President) Xi Jinping is using Mandarin, that is, Chinese, to Sinicize Mongolians, as well as Tibetans and Uyghurs.”
“This is a barbaric policy springing from Han chauvinism, which is to say Chinese nationalism,” Xi has said.
The report noted that China had announced in 2021 that it would extend compulsory Mandarin teaching to preschoolers across the country, ousting minority languages like Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uyghur – as well as regional Chinese languages like Sichuanese or Cantonese – as the medium of instruction for children of all ages across the country.
The move was aimed at “enabling pre-school children in ethnic minority and rural areas and rural areas to gradually acquire the ability to communicate at a basic level in Mandarin, and to lay the foundations for the compulsory education phase,” the directive was quoted as saying.