News / Asia

Tibetan Students Protest Alleged Plan to Use Mandarin Exclusively in Class

Thousands of Tibetan students stage protests in Rebkong, northwestern China's Qinghai province, 19 Oct 2010
Thousands of Tibetan students stage protests in Rebkong, northwestern China's Qinghai province, 19 Oct 2010

Tibetan students in western China are reported to be back at school after they carried out protests over unconfirmed plans to use the Chinese language exclusively in classes.

Witnesses reported calm Wednesday, one day after several thousand Tibetan middle and high school students in China's western Qinghai province protested reports that schools would be required to teach in Mandarin only.
Witnesses say the protests were peaceful and that police did not interfere.

Stephanie Brigden is with the advocacy group Free Tibet, which has been in contact with witnesses in Qinghai. She says the authorities did not interfere in the protests possibly because they did not know what to make of them.

"I think partly the police and the military were unclear on the nature of the protests," she noted,  "so, historically we have seen the police reacting with disproportionate force when Tibetans have made demands for the Dalai Lama to return, for Tibetan independence. But this protest was very much led on what you could arguably call a soft issue of language, so it is very unclear how the police should respond to that."

Schools in Tibetan areas use Mandarin and Tibetan alongside each other. Teachers have told news organizations that they have received no orders to switch to Chinese entirely.

Qinghai officials had no immediate comment on the latest protests, but the Qinghai government earlier this month published a document calling for the need to promote a bilingual system.

Brigden says the public fear that Tibetan language would be cut from schools shows the gulf of credibility between official rhetoric and what Tibetans actually hear on the ground.

"I think this is a good example of the difference between what is promised and what is delivered. This is the case, whether we are talking about education rights, whether we are talking about who is benefiting from development in Tibet, or we are talking about whether torture takes place in Tibet," Brigden said.

The issue of adequately promoting minority languages is sensitive in China, where ethnic Han Chinese make up more than 90 percent of the population. The Chinese government has for decades promoted Mandarin Chinese as a way of unifying a diverse country. Many Tibetans say they have little choice but to learn Mandarin if they want to get ahead in modern China.

Modern Chinese art expert Li Xianting learned of the Tibetan language deficiency when he recently helped organize an exhibition of contemporary Tibetan art in Beijing.

Li says he was very surprised when one of the young Tibetan artists, who was literate in Tibetan because his parents were professors, told him some of the other Tibetan artists were not writing Tibetan words correctly.

He says it is not fair to Tibetans that they do not get enough instruction in their own language. He says he thinks globalization should mean multiculturalism, not the eradication of local cultures.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid