Parents of inner Mongolia protest against strengthening Chinese language education detained by authorities September 27 at 6:59 p.m.
In Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where many ethnic Mongolians live in China, there has been a strong backlash against the decrease in Mongolian classes in school education and the strengthening of Chinese education, but the authorities have tightened their control by detaining parents and guardians of students who participated in the protests one after another.
In Inner Mongolia, from the new semester of this month, “Japanese” classes for first-year elementary and junior high school students will be held in Chinese instead of traditional Mongolian, and from next year onwards, it has been decided that classes in Chinese will be switched to other subjects.
On the other hand, there is a growing sense of crisis among Mongolians that their language could be lost, protests have been carried out in various parts of the country, and according to several local residents, demonstrators and parents of students who boycotted classes have been arrested one after another.
A woman, a former teacher, told NHK by telephone, “Many people have been arrested for illegal protests and treated like political prisoners. Teachers who oppose the new policy are also threatened with dismissal or reduced pay.”
The South Mongolia Human Rights Information Center, an American-based human rights group, says more than 4,000 Mongolians have been detained by the authorities since late last month, according to local information.
A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at a press conference on March 3 that “the official language of the country is a symbol of national sovereignty, and it is people’s right and duty to learn and use it,” and stressed that “the educational system in two languages, Chinese and Mongolian, remains the same” and is expected to fend off growing criticism.
What’s going on there?
What is happening in Inner Mongolia? NHK interviewed the central city of Huhhot, where protests were held this month.
In the city, signs and posters with slogans of the Communist Party of China, which appealed for ethnic unity, were displayed here and there, along with Chinese characters and Mongolian characters.
In the vicinity of the ethnic school where Mongolian children attend, a police check was carried out, and it was seen that the passing car was stopped and the identification card was confirmed.
When we talked in the streets about the strengthening of education and protests in Chinese, there were people who all shut their mouths and left to run away.
In another district where the protests took place, local police have posted photos of more than 100 people on the Internet saying they have caused a stir, and are calling for prize money to provide information.
Against this end, several Mongolian residents responded to telephone interviews from Japan on condition of anonymity.
One of these women, a former teacher, said that people who participated in the protests and parents of students who boycotted classes had been arrested one after another, and that the government was not listening to our legitimate demands and was trying to implement them hard. It deprives everyone of their right to education in Mongolian, their mother’s language, and everyone is angry.”
In addition, an executive of a village said, “I cannot resist because my phone is bugged, monitored, or in some cases arrested,” and said, “This policy clearly violates the constitution and laws that stipulate the defense of ethnic language and culture, and is nothing more than repression. It imposes a way of thinking centered on the Han people, and we try to make us forget Mongolian and leave Inner Mongolia at our own will.”
Focus on Chinese education for ethnic minorities as part of “unity”
Launched in 2012, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly advocated the slogan “Great Revival of the Chinese People” and has called on all citizens to unite as Chinese people under the Communist Party.
As part of this effort, we have focused on Chinese education for ethnic minorities, and similar measures have been introduced one after another since 2017 in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region, where dissatisfaction with ethnic policies persists.
In addition to the Japanese language, classes in Chinese are conducted in three subjects, “morality” and “history,” and the aim is to make elementary and junior high school students of ethnic minorities aware of the “Chinese people” and to instill the Communist Party’s sense of values and view of history.
President Xi Jinping, at an important conference on governance policies in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region held until the 26th, said that through education, “the sense of community of the Chinese people will be deeply instilled in the heart.”
In order to maintain one-party rule by the Communist Party, The Xi Jinping leadership has made domestic stability a top priority, and it is expected that the control in the education field will be strengthened in order to suppress the dissatisfaction of the minority who say that ethnic policy is repressive.
dissatisfaction with the Han people smoldering
Inner Mongolia borders Mongolia, with an area of about three times that of Japan and a population of about 24 million in a 2010 survey.
Of these, approximately 4.2 million are Mongolians 17% of the total 17%.
Under China’s constitution, each nation is allowed the freedom to use its own language, and classes mainly in Mongolian have been held in ethnic schools for many years in inner Mongolia.
On the other hand, with china’s economic development, in recent years, there have been more opportunities to use Chinese on a daily basis, which is advantageous for going on to higher education and finding employment, and there has been a growing sense of crisis among Mongolians as ethnic culture is lost.
In addition, although large-scale resource development such as coal and rare earths has been progressing recently and economic development is expected in the autonomous region, dissatisfaction with the Han people who hold the real power of politics and the economy is smoldering, saying that mongolians have little benefit and environmental destruction is progressing.
Expert “In the form of wakeing a sleeping child”
Mr. Shin one Shibata, president of the Japan Mongolian Association, who is familiar with the situation in Inner Mongolia, pointed out that the strengthening of education in Chinese was part of the Chinese government’s policy of assification against ethnic minorities, and said, “In order to suppress anti-government activities, it may have been necessary to justify the strengthening of Chinese language education that had been introduced in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region. If only the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region defends the language of the people, it could have a negative impact on ethnic policies in other regions, and I think we have judged that it should be strengthened side by side with Uighur and Tibet.”
On top of that, he noted that China has deepened its confrontation with the United States and other countries over its response to the new coronavirus and the situation in Hong Kong. On the other hand, this measure has led to a re-recognition that even those who did not have strong anti-government thoughts and ethnic sentiments must be aware that they are Mongolian people, and from the Communist Party of China, it may have become a form of causing a child to sleep doing something they did not need.”