China defends Tibet language policy after report
BEIJING: China hit back on Friday at a report this week accusing it of neglecting and actively undermining the Tibetan language, saying that in fact the government went to great efforts to promote and protect its use.
The London-based Free Tibet Campaign said China was forcing Tibetan children increasingly to learn in Mandarin instead of their mother tongue. The language was also being used less and less in official circles, such as in government offices. The Tibet government in Lhasa denied this. “The Tibetan language receives broad study, use and development,” the government said in a faxed statement to Reuters. Laws “clearly state that in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibetan and Chinese are both important, and that Tibetan should be taken as the most important”, it said.
Legal and other official documents are written in Tibetan, as well as signs at factories, schools, hotels, restaurants and on roads, the statement said. “The education system in the Tibet Autonomous Region pushes bilingual education, but puts Tibetan first,” it added. The Free Tibet Campaign’s Matt Whitticase dismissed the government’s comments. “In theory, there are laws to protect the Tibetan language,” he told Reuters by telephone. “But they are not worth the paper they are written on.” reuters