Students at a class in Hohhot, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, May 7, 2020. Photo: Xinhua
The Chinese ambassador to Mongolia has rejected remarks made by former president of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on social media and in a letter addressed to China regarding the implementation of bilingual education of Putonghua and ethnic language in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, saying that his views in the letter are completely wrong and China won’t accept them.
“The national common language is a symbol of a country’s sovereignty, and it is the right and duty of every citizen to learn and use the common language, which is true not only for China, but also for all countries in the world,” said Chai Wenrui, the ambassador to Mongolia, in a letter sent to Elbegdorj.
“At the same time, the Chinese government protects the rights of ethnic minorities, including Mongolians, to use their own spoken and written languages in accordance with law,” Chai said.
Chai noted that all affairs related to Inner Mongolian, including the bilingual education reform in Inner Mongolia, are China’s internal affairs and no other countries can interfere in them.
In his letter, Elbegdorj criticized the region’s education reform, seeing a “dissolution and elimination” of Mongolian ethnicity through their language.
Elbegdorj’s letter has been returned as the remarks in the letter were considered wrong, Chai said, adding that he hopes that Elbegdorj can respect China’s sovereignty and recognize the truth considering the overall interests of relations between the two countries, and stop hyping up the issue.
Since the fall semester in 2020, students in first grade in ethnic primary and middle schools in Inner Mongolia started to use the State-approved textbook for Chinese, and the course is taught in Putonghua.
Previously, students started taking the course in second grade, while Mongolian language remains the medium of instruction in other subjects from first grade. The Inner Mongolia government released an explanation on its new education regulations on August 31.
Some changes to the regulation which had not been fully explained and disinformation that misled the public had caused concerns from some students and parents that the Mongolian language will be replaced by Putonghua.
Some Western media have also been hyping up the education reform and recent events in the region.
The local government of Xilingol League in Inner Mongolia issued a detailed explanation on September 6, guaranteeing that the new regulation doesn’t signal a cancellation of classes taught in the Mongolian language, nor does it mean the end of preferable policies aimed at helping ethnic minority students get into college.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on September 3 that the Western reports were political hype, and that it is every citizen’s right and responsibility to learn and use the common language.
Newspaper headline: Chinese ambassador rejects former Mongolian president’s remarks on bilingual education