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Mongolians protest against China's plan to introduce Mandarin-only classes at schools in the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, at Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia on September 15, 2020. (Byambasuren Byamba-ochir AFP)

Mongolian Language Being Phased Out in Southern Mongolia

In Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party’s relentless implementation of a policy of assimilation of Mongolians, Tibetans, Uyghurs and other non-Chinese communities, the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) posted a story from Radio Free Asia (RFA) on efforts by Chinese authorities in the northern part of Southern Mongolia (Inner Mongolia as per the name used by the Chinese government) to aggressively hire Mandarin-speaking teachers from across China to settle in the region and teach Chinese and other subjects.

The RFA piece says “primary and secondary schools across the region were ordered to end Mongolian-medium instruction and to offer only Chinese-medium teaching from Sept. 1, 2023.” Authorities were reported to be offering attractive packages, “resettlement allowance” and free accommodation to encourage recent graduates to move to the region.

The recruitment drive comes as Inner Mongolia Vice Gov. Bao Xianhua called in a signed opinion article in the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, for “a team of teachers with excellent skills, providing a strong guarantee for the building of a strong regional education system, who will write the next chapter of the modernization of Inner Mongolia, Chinese-style.”

Many Mongolians say the move is part of the government’s bid to erase Mongolian language and culture from the region’s schools. Mongolian language is being phased out in favor of Mandarin as a medium of instruction for non-language classes including history, math and science. The policy sparked mass protests by parents and students followed by a region wide crackdown when it was announced in September 2020.

“The Chinese government is targeting the Southern Mongolians’ last defense of national identity, that is the language. From kindergartners to college students, from teachers to professors, from ordinary herders to party members, the entire [ethnic] Mongolian population is subjected to [a] massive training program,” said Enghebatu Togochog, head of SMHRIC.

A Feb. 21, 2024 report by SMHRIC reported that Chinese authorities had begun merging Chinese-medium and Mongolian-medium schools across the region, forcing around 1 million ethnic Mongolian children from rural areas into more than 2,000 boarding schools. Such a boarding school system mirrors what is happening in Tibetan and Uyghur areas as well.

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China recruits Mandarin-speaking teachers to move to Inner Mongolia