'Colonial' China accused of depriving Tibetans of their own language, education

REUTERS/Joseph Campbell

Much of Western criticism of China focuses on the vast collection of "re-education" centers in Xinjiang. Predominantly focused on Muslim minorities, these centres have resulted in the incarceration of thousands of Uyghurs who are forced to study Chinese language and culture. The system, however, was first tested in Tibet.

"There is no hope for our new generations. They are shifting to Chinese-only education," Dr Gyal Lo, a sociologist and specialist in education policy in Tibet, told RFI. "It will have a long-term effect."

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping prioritised Mandarin language education for China's "official minorities" – Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols, Manchus – first at the 2014 Central Ethnic Work Conference.

As part of this policy, Beijing aggressively altered language education in minority areas like Xinjiang and Tibet.

In practice, this meant that education for Tibetan children was controlled by the directives of the central government.

"The society is systematically being controlled," says Gyal Lo, who in a recent publication in the Tibet Review describes China's handling of Tibet as "colonial."

'Colonial' rule

In his article, Gyal Lo describes the "seven stages of colonialism," a theory first applied to the colonisation of indigenous people in Canada.

Gyal Lo adds that the idea that China should be considered a colonial power "has not yet been fully recognised by the international community".

Read more on RFI English

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