Inner Mongolia Government Staff Punished for Protesting Against Mandarin-Only School Lessons

September 13, 2020 Updated: September 13, 2020

After Inner Mongolian authorities implemented plans to phase out Mongolian teaching in classrooms and replace it with Mandarin Chinese, waves of protests broke out across the region.

Many parents stopped sending their children to schools, including government officials and employees who are ethnic Mongolian. Leaked documents obtained by The Epoch Times reveal that local authorities are monitoring government employees and issuing punitive measures for those who do not support the new language policy.

Since late August, local protests erupted after the local education bureau issued new regulations requiring classes in primary and middle schools to be taught in Mandarin Chinese and use standardized Chinese-language textbooks. The region is home to many ethnic Mongolians, who have a distinct language and culture from the Han Chinese ethnic majority who speak Mandarin.

Local media also reported that in the Xilin Gol League, officials were seeking to hire more bilingual teachers fluent in Mongolian and Mandarin, who would replace those who taught only in Mongolian.

The new policy caused anxiety and fears among ethnic Mongolians that their unique cultural identities were being eroded.

The Epoch Times recently obtained Inner Mongolia government documents, revealing that any Chinese Communist Party members and government employees who opposed the policy would be penalized. Authorities also monitored staff’s children to ensure that they are not boycotting classes.

On Sept. 6, many local governments in Inner Mongolia issued a notice requiring public officials to send their children to school. If anyone doesn’t comply, the person will be “suspended, all benefits will be temporarily removed, and he or she will be investigated and held accountable.”

Local media reports confirmed that there were several officials who were suspended for opposing the language policy.

Another Inner Mongolia document stated that any Communist Party members and cadres who take an active role in preventing their children from going to school or enrolling would “first be given a talking to, followed by a criticism and education [session], a warning, a severe warning, then dismissal or expulsion from the Party.”

Also, since Sept. 1, the Communist Party committee of Bayar Tohushuo town began collecting information on the school enrollment and attendance status of town officials and Party cadres’ children, as instructed by higher-ups, according to one document.

Officials must “make sure employees in the unit send their children to school tomorrow (Sept. 5),” read another internal government report.

Another document revealed that the town government was investigating whether any Party members had participated in local protests since Aug. 25.

Despite the threats, locals posted on social media that there were still students in many areas of Inner Mongolia who have not returned to school. Fewer students were attending the Party flag-raising ceremony, which is held every Monday at all elementary, middle, and high schools.

Radio Free Asia reported that hundreds of Mongolians have been arrested or pressured to resign from public office due to their refusal to comply with the language policy.

On Sept. 4, Su Rina, a Mongolian female official from the government office of the Alxa League in Inner Mongolia, fell from her residence and died, according to local media. Some netizens relayed what her husband Alateng Bagna said: His wife died after she had disagreements with officials about the new policy and received pressure from higher-ups.