The Chinese government would reconsider its plan to promote the use of Mandarin, the language spoken by the majority Han Chinese ethnic group, as the sole language of instruction in universities after hundreds of Tibetan students in western China and in Beijing protested the move this week. On Tuesday, more than 1,000 university and high-school students marched in Tongren (Rebkong in Tibetan) in western Qinghai province, calling for equality of ethnicities and freedom of language.
The protest was sparked by reported comments from the Communist Party’s Qinghai chief, Qiang Wei, calling for the use of “a common language” in schools and suggesting that the province would introduce Mandarin as the language of instruction over the next decade.
Protests spread to other towns in western China last week after videos of the Tongren protest spread through the Internet. The official Xinhua news agency reported protests in at least four prefectures in Qinghai, with students “expressing their dissatisfaction”.
There were no reports of arrests or clashes between police and the students, who appear to have been allowed to carry out the protests.
On Friday, 400 students at Minzu University, a school that specialises in education related to China’s minority groups, marched in thei