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China defends Tibet language policy after report

February 25, 2008

Daily Times, Pakistan
February 23, 2008

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
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