New York – As the new school year starts, Chinese authorities are enforcing a total ban on the Mongolian language in all schools across Southern Mongolia. As part of a larger effort to erase Mongolian language, culture, and identity, Chinese authorities are also doubling down on banning Mongolian-language publications.
If September 1, 2020, was the beginning of this sweeping ban implemented in the name of “Second Generation Bilingual Education,” September 1, 2023 marked the end of the project. All Mongolian schools—including kindergartens—are now required to use Chinese exclusively as the medium of instruction for all subjects.
“Today is the first day of the new school year,” a Southern Mongolian named Mandaa said in a short Kuaishou video. “I heard the voices from helpless and frustrated Mongolian parents in our local communities. No class is taught in Mongolian for Mongolian students anymore.”
“The [Chinese] Ministry of Education is spreading misinformation and brainwashing the Mongolians,” a Mongolian parent said in a WeChat discussion group. “All subjects are now taught in Chinese.”
“Our autonomous region has lost the autonomy entirely,” another member said in the group discussion. “The reason why we Southern Mongolians did not pursue independence was because the Chinese promised autonomy to us. I will just leave this topic here because furthering this discussion will put me in trouble.”
“I took my daughter to kindergarten two days ago. We were told all classes will be taught in Chinese,” revealed a parent from eastern Southern Mongolia’s Tongliao Municipality, confirming the new policy’s strict implementation.
Advocating for a form of home-schooling, one parent declared that “The only option for parents is to teach Mongolian at home,” while another parent replied that “refusing to send your children to school is not allowed, though.”
“This is not just a denial of our right to mother tongue. This is a threat to the survival of our Mongolian nation and people,” a female member of the group urged, warning Mongolians of the seriousness of the issue.
Despite this sweeping ban on the Mongolian language across the region’s schools, Mongolians remain hopeful. Some say, “Total erasure of our language is impossible.” Others say, “Nothing lasts forever. There will be an end to this.” Still others say, “The right to use the Mongolian language is highly respected by the whole world.”
Banning the language in school is not the only facet of what the Mongolians widely call “cultural genocide.” The banning of Mongolian books and other publications has also intensified.
On August 25, 2023, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Books and Periodicals Distribution Association issued a public notice to ban both Mongolian and Chinese versions of a multi-volume book titled The Comprehensive History of Mongolian Nationality.
Authored by the Southern Mongolian historian Mr. Mansang Taichuud and published by the official Chinese publisher Liaoning Nationalities Publishing House in 2004, the book, according to the notice, was ordered to be “removed from shelves immediately.”
The notice urged, “All member units [of the Association] must adhere to the correct party line of history to take a clear-cut stand in denouncing historical nihilism.”
“We are living in a world where recognized genocides are a tiny fraction of committed genocides,” Mr. Enghebatu Togochog, director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, said in a statement. “China is a genocide machine that is committing multiple genocides on multiple fronts in front of the eyes of the international community. Uyghurs are subjected to physical genocide while Mongolians and Tibetans are subjected to cultural genocide. The goals of these genocides are the same: wipe out our nations and peoples and create a homogenous Chinese society.”