(TibetanReview.net, Dec02’21) – The People’s Republic of China will be a Putonghua-, or Mandarin Chinese-speaking, unilingual country to the extent of 85% of its population under President Xi Jinping’s Sinicization drive by 2025. The goal is to make it a fully unilingual dominion by 2035, said China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 2, citing the country’s Ministry of Education.
The move appears to put threatened Chinese regional dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien under even greater pressure, along with minority languages such as Tibetan, Mongolian and Uyghur, noted the AP Dec 1.
The report cited an order issued Dec 1 by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, as saying the use of Mandarin, known in Chinese as “putonghua” or the “common tongue,” remained “unbalanced and inadequate” and needed to be improved to meet the demands of the modern economy.
The report said the policy was backed up by legal requirements and the document issued Dec 1, which demanded strengthened supervision to “ensure that the national common spoken and written language is used as the official language of government agencies and used as the basic language of schools, news and publications, radio, film and television, public services and other fields.”
Implementation of this policy in school education has already led to several major protests in Chinese ruled Qinghai Province, which constitutes the bulk of the historical Tibetan Province of Amdo (or Domey), over the past few years, as well as in Inner Mongolia, which is also under Chinese occupation rule, more recently.
China’s ruling Communist Party has denounced all such movements as a form of separatism and repressed them ruthlessly. It says language conformity is necessary for the sake of the economy and national unity, the AP report noted.
The Xinhua report cited a circular released by China’s Ministry of Education as stressing the fundamental role that schools play in the teaching of the standardized Chinese language and characters.
In particular, the circular was reported to call for wider access to standardized Chinese education in ethnic minority areas, while paying lip-service to the protection of the spoken and written languages of ethnic minorities.
The circular was also stated to stress the importance of promoting Chinese language education and services internationally, as well as the language’s influence in the academic field.
The AP report said that along with the 2025 goal, the policy’s aim was to make Mandarin virtually universal by 2035, including in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
The State Council order was stated to call on officials to “vigorously enhance the international status and influence of Chinese” in academia, international organizations and at global gatherings.