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China’s Soweto

The Soweto riots were the beginning of the end for Apartheid in South Africa. This is how they began:

Black South African high school students in Soweto protested against the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974, which forced all black schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50–50 mix as languages of instruction. The Regional Director of Bantu Education (Northern Transvaal Region), J.G. Erasmus, told Circuit Inspectors and Principals of Schools that from 1 January 1975, Afrikaans had to be used for mathematics, arithmetic, and social studies from standard five (7th grade), according to the Afrikaans Medium Decree; English would be the medium of instruction for general science and practical subjects (homecraft, needlework, woodwork, metalwork, art, agricultural science). Indigenous languages would only be used for religious instruction, music, and physical culture.

Forty-six years later, in Inner Mongolia, sorry, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China (not to be confused with the neighbouring sovereign state of Mongolia), children of another subjugated land are protesting against a decree that forces their schools to use the oppressor’s language as the medium of instruction:

Inner Mongolia protests at China’s plans to bring in Mandarin-only lessons

Thousands of ethnic Mongolians have protested across northern China in opposition to Beijing plans to replace the Mongolian language with Chinese in some school subjects.

Tuesday marked the first day of a policy revealed in June, to gradually transition the language of instruction in Inner Mongolian schools from Mongolian to Mandarin Chinese. The change affects three subjects over the next three years in the autonomous region. The education bureau said Mongolian and Korean language classes would remain.

The official explanation for the change to a bilingual education system was to ensure the curriculum and textbooks were of a high standard, and that government documents cited by analysts also referred to president Xi Jinping’s push for shared language as part of a common identity.

However mass protests in Inner Mongolia – referred to as Southern Mongolia by ethnic rights and independence groups – have revealed the depth of fear that Mongolian would be relegated to a foreign language as part of government plans to assimilate ethnic minorities into Chinese Han culture.

I called this China’s Soweto. But don’t expect any equivalent to UN Security Council Resolution 392.

Other links concerning this story:

Tightening the noose on Mongolian in Southern Mongolia

Rare rallies in China over Mongolian language curb

17 comments to China’s Soweto

  • bobby b

    Optimistic, I think.

    In Sefrica, you had millions against tens of thousands.

    In Inner Mongolia, sounds like you have tens of thousands against millions.

    In Sefrica, ==200 deaths galvanized world opinion.

    In China – just another day.

    (Wipe out the language, kids can’t communicate with their elders. Seems to relate nicely to an earlier post about kids belonging to villages.)

  • newrouter

    >The Soweto riots were the beginning of the end for Apartheid in South Africa.<

    And the end too of WHITE! technology. How's that South African electrical grid doing these days? lol

  • Flubber

    The end of Apartheid hasn’t improved things, it has made them demonstrably worse.

    Ask the remaining whites suffering mass murder.

    Or the King of the Zulus who said “life was better under Apartheid”

  • Eric

    As bad as it was, the Apartheid era South African government was a collection of nuns compared to today’s CCP. These kids will be lucky to avoid getting parted out for organs like the Falun Gong were.

  • Mr Ed

    ‘Apartheid’ was just the first form of social distancing, today we have signs in England saying ‘keep apart’ but rather than applying to general categories, they apply equally to everyone, unlike bans on hair salons in San Francisco and House Speakers.

    The promotion of Afrikaans (for social studies, of course) was simply being PC in the National Party’s rather blinkered eyes, it’s the same mentality as today’s American Left, just with a more overt (OK, not dishonest) promotion of their own followers. The poor Mongols are, as others note, massively outnumbered and wholly out-gunned, but at least they have, for now, overcome their fear. Unlike that poor pregnant woman in Victoria, Australia Zoe Buhler arrested and handcuffed in her home in front of her children because of a Facebook post protesting against the local lockdown. She said that she was too afraid to carry on with the protest, and reportedly her brother closed a GoFundMe page for her legal fees after he received threats. Red China knows how to spread fear, and it will do so.

  • Barry Sheridan

    China cannot be compared to apartheid era South Africa, it is one of the world’s leading powers and a member of the UN Security Council, South Africa never had this clout. You only have to see how China is ruthlessly dealing with minority elements in its own country, including the breaking of the international agreement with Hong Kong, never mind acknowledge its aggressive intents in the South China Sea and its neighbours to realise they will do as they please.

  • John B

    Because if you want to get jobs, including influential positions in the institutions, government, etc it is absolutely important you DON’T learn and speak the official language.

  • llamas

    In the US, such a move (to make English the required language, and to further a “common identity”) would be/is denounced as the most heinous racism, exclusion and ‘othering’, and would bring down a tidal wave of ‘woke’ protest and denouncement.

    But if China does it – that’s perfectly OK.

    (I think I will copyright that phrase, it could make me millions in the years to come 😈 )



  • Jacob

    Forget the Chinese and Mongolians. Who cares?
    It’s the US that’s circling into the drain. “Silence is violence”!

  • Chinese policy in Occupied Mongolia sounds a lot like Chinese policy in Occupied Tibet.

  • bobby b

    September 4, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    “Forget the Chinese and Mongolians. Who cares?
    It’s the US that’s circling into the drain. “Silence is violence”!

    And yet, we still need a wall to keep people out.


  • Edward King

    Perhaps the Chinese should look to their history, and remember what happened last time they messed with the Mongolians.

  • Alan Peakall

    When I was once asked When did Mongolia become independent?, although the date 1924 rang a bell, I hedged my bets and answered I think that Eurasia began the process of recovering its independence from Mongolia starting in the mid-Fourteenth Century.

  • I wonder what would have happened if the South African degree had allowed skipping Afrikaans for any who did not choose it and just mandated that English be used for mathematics, arithmetic, and social studies. Obviously, they would never have wanted a decree at all if no pushing of Afrikaans was done – but I wonder if the Sowetans would have minded as much.

    The world has known about Tibet for a long time, and until China became so 21st-century powerful, it was safe to care – that is, Buddhism and the Dalai Lama were kind-of OK to like on the left as well as the right, and you could say you minded without losing street-cred. (This did not, alas, do much for the people of Tibet.)

    We’ll see whether wokeness and the need to cover Biden or blame Trump means it will not be so safe to care about China’s northern-colony gulags.

  • Paul Marks

    As others have pointed out the Communist Party regime of the People’s Republic of China could wipe out entire ethnic groups and the West would do nothing. The PRC are not “white capitalists” (even though most business enterprises are privately owned in China) so the left in the West (who control just about everything) do not care what they do.

    Remember, to the Frankfurt School of Marxism dominated West, “whiteness” is the satanic enemy. For example the American government teaches its employees to hate “whiteness”.

    There is a name in Chinese for white leftists – it is not a complementary term.

  • John

    No idea how true this is but I was told that the Mandela led ANC built a large number of basic dwellings for the Soweto residents which were roundly rejected on account of unwillingness to actually pay for electricity and water supplies – previously free as in illegally diverted from the mains in the township.

  • darthlaurel

    I do think that it is important for Mongolian speakers to know what their Mandarin speaking insect overlords are saying though.