Minority languages and the rights of Tibetans to preserve their language.

China is imposing Chinese as the main language of instruction in areas of the country which are majority Tibetan, and are even designated as “Autonomous” regions. This has sparked some protests within China according to this article.

I was just in the more genuinely “autonomous” region of Catalunya, where all school instruction is in Catalan, including for people who move there from Spanish speaking parts of Spain. In Quebec, schooling is in French although a publicly funded English school system serves the established English minority, although newcomers may only study in French in the public system. In largely francophone areas of the adjacent provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick, there are also large public school systems in the minority language. French public schools are supported elsewhere in the country, with less success (or justification in my view).

If a language is not the main language of instruction at school it tends to weaken. Some minorities in China, like the Manchus, have lost their language, and with that a large part of their identity. This is also a problem with most first nations groups in Canada, or the Maoris in New Zealand.

I support the rights of minority people, ( I do not mean immigrants, but long established national groups), to have instruction in their own language, where the numbers justify it. A good example would be the Tibetan speaking parts of China. Could it be that China wants to assimilate these people?

Here is an interesting article on minorities in China from the Asia Society, and one on the problems of the Maori language in New Zealand.


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