Chairs Condemn Suppression of Language Protests, Assault on U.S. Journalist in Inner Mongolia

September 16, 2020

Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Chair and Cochair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) issued the following statement regarding the implementation of a new language policy in schools in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) and the subsequent suppression of region-wide protests against the policy.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to immediately release all of those detained for engaging in peaceful protests to preserve Mongolian-language education and to end harassment and surveillance of Mongols who have advocated for language rights. We condemn efforts by the Chinese government to systematically assimilate ethnic minorities, including by imposing restrictions on ethnic minority language instruction in schools in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in recent years.”

“We also condemn, in the strongest terms, the recent detention and assault of Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief Alice Su, who was covering the IMAR protests. She was reportedly detained by police for more than four hours, during which time a police officer ‘grabbed her throat with both hands and pushed her into a cell.’”

Background: The right of Mongols in the IMAR to receive instruction in the Mongolian language is enshrined in China’s Constitution and the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law. In mid-August, the IMAR Department of Education announced that schools throughout the region offering instruction in the Mongolian language would be required to implement a policy substantially reducing the amount of Mongolian-language instruction and replacing it with Mandarin Chinese. This move was preceded by similar curriculum changes in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Efforts to systematically, and sometimes forcibly, assimilate ethnic minorities in China have intensified under President and Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.