How China’s new language policy sparked rare backlash in Inner Mongolia

Ethnic Mongolian students and parents in northern China have staged mass school boycotts over a new curriculum that would scale back education in their mother tongue, in a rare and highly visible protest against the ruling Communist Party’s intensified push for ethnic assimilation.



a group of people standing in front of a building: Mongolian citizens protest at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, against China's plan to reduce teaching in Mongolian at schools in the neighboring Chinese region of Inner Mongolia on August 31, 2020.


© Byambasuren Byamba-Ochir/AFP/Getty Images
Mongolian citizens protest at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, against China’s plan to reduce teaching in Mongolian at schools in the neighboring Chinese region of Inner Mongolia on August 31, 2020.

Under the new policy, Mandarin Chinese will replace Mongolian as the medium of instruction for three subjects in elementary and middle schools for minority groups across the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, home to 4.2 million ethnic Mongolians.

Authorities have defended the adoption of a national standardized curriculum — which comes with Chinese textbooks compiled and approved by policymakers in Beijing — will improve minority students’ paths

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Students in Inner Mongolia protest Chinese language policy

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Ethnic Mongolians, including students and parents, in China’s Inner Mongolia region are demonstrating their anger in rare public protests against a new bilingual education policy that they say is endangering the Mongolian language.

A high school student in the city of Hulunbuir said students rushed out of their school on Tuesday and destroyed a fence before paramilitary police swarmed in and tried to return them to class.

“We senior students were talking and we thought we had to do something,” said the student, Narsu, who like most Mongolians has only one name. “Although this doesn’t directly affect us now, this will have a huge impact on us in the future.”

The policy, announced on Monday ahead of the start of the new school year, requires schools to use new national textbooks in Chinese, replacing Mongolian-language textbooks. Protesters say they were aware of demonstrations and classroom walkouts in

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Disinformation causes ‘twists’ in bilingual education in China’s Inner Mongolia

Students at a class in Hohhot, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, May 7, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

China’s work in implementing bilingual education of Putonghua and an ethnic language in ethnically populated regions in recent years has been smooth and effective in cultivating bilingual talent. Some twists happened in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as a new regulation on bringing courses taught in Putonghua has not been fully explained to parents, and disinformation has misled the public, with the possible interference of overseas separatists. 

Since this year’s fall semester, students in first grade in ethnic primary and middle schools in Inner Mongolia would use the state-approved textbook for Chinese, and the course would be taught in Putonghua. Before the reform, students started learning the course from second grade. Mongolian language remains the medium of instruction in other subjects from first grade. The Inner Mongolia government released an explanation on its

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