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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China smooths over Tibet language row

October 26, 2010

Wales Online
October 23, 2010

Chinese officials tried to defuse discontent
following days of student protests in ethnically
Tibetan areas, saying a plan to teach classes
only in Mandarin Chinese was not aimed at wiping
out Tibet’s native tongue, state media reported today.

Changes will not be forced in areas where
"conditions are not ripe," the official Xinhua
News Agency cited Wang Yubo, the Qinghai province
education department director, as saying.

London-based group Free Tibet said that hundreds,
possibly thousands, of middle, high school and
college students joined the demonstrations.

For authorities, any sign of unrest among
Tibetans is seen as a threat to national
sovereignty and a reminder of past uprisings
against China’s often heavy-handed rule over the Himalayan region.

No arrests or violence were reported following
the student protests that began in the town of
Tongren and soon spread to other communities in
the western province of Qinghai, which is home to
numerous minority ethnic groups, including
Tibetans and Mongolians, who retain their own languages.

There was also a similar protest on the campus of a Beijing university.

The protests appear to have been sparked by
remarks by Qiang Wei, Qinghai province’s
Communist Party chief, who was quoted last month
by the Communist Party’s official newspaper as
praising the use of a "common language" in schools.

A report on Qinghai’s plans for educational
reform over the next decade has said "the
nation’s common language must become the language of instruction."

Students fear the government’s plan means the
current bilingual system will be scrapped in
favour of using Mandarin Chinese alone, except in language classes.
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