Local regulations stipulating ethnic languages in teaching go against Constitution: top lawmaker
Published: Jan 20, 2021 10:48 PM

Children walk on a newly-built iron-chain bridge in Wuying Village, a remote village inhabited by the Miao ethnic group on the border between south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and southwest China's Guizhou Province, Dec. 31, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Some local regulations that allow ethnic schools to use ethnic languages in teaching are inconsistent with Chinese Constitution's order to promote Putonghua in the country, a senior Chinese lawmaker said on Wednesday.

There are local regulations stipulating that schools of some ethnic groups should use the spoken and written languages of their own ethnic groups or languages commonly used by the groups, while other local regulations state that capable ethnic schools could use Han Chinese language in teaching some of their courses, Shen Chunyao, director at the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said in a report, reported.

In this regard, the commission has found that the above-mentioned rules are inconsistent with the Article 19 of the Constitution on the state's promotion of Putonghua and other relevant laws, Shen said.  

According to the Constitution, the state shall promote the use of Putonghua nationwide.

Shen stressed such situations shall be corrected and dealt with.

The Chinese Constitution stipulates that citizens have the freedom to use their own ethnic language, while it also stipulates that every person should grasp and use the national common language. There is almost no exception in any country, Wu Chuke, a professor at the School of Ethnology and Sociology at the Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The national common language is necessary to ensure the unity and integrity of the country and the smooth flow of government orders," Wu said.

He noted that grasping and using Chinese language does not mean "sinicization." Such link is a misunderstanding of national identity as one nation and regulations related to the national common language.

A local policy adopted in September 2020 in the Xilingol League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region states that first graders will learn the Chinese language and literature with unified Putonghua textbooks. The move was mistakenly interpreted by local residents as a cancellation of Mongolian language teaching, reports said. 

Local authorities later explained that Putonghua teaching will be used in the second grade, while the new policy brings the teaching to first graders. Other subjects will still be taught in Mongolian and there is no intention to cancel Mongolian language teaching.