New face on Chinese state media grabs attention amid Inner Mongolia unrest

New anchorwoman of Mongolian descent believed to have been picked for propaganda purposes

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Bao Xiaofeng (left) tapped as new anchorwoman on CCTV show Xinwen Lianbo. (YouTube screenshot)

Bao Xiaofeng (left) tapped as new anchorwoman on CCTV show Xinwen Lianbo. (YouTube screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese state network CCTV has picked a new anchorwoman of Mongolian ethnicity at a time when the country grapples with ongoing protests in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.

CCTV daily news program Xinwen Lianbo (新聞聯播) introduced Bao Xiaofeng (寶曉峰) as a news presenter on Saturday (Sept. 12). The program makes government announcements and reflects the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), earning it the epithet “the barometer of Chinese politics.”

Bao, who was born in the Inner Mongolian capital of Hohhot and graduated from the Communication University of China in 2001, has been featured on many CCTV programs over her 19-year career at the state mouthpiece. The timing of her promotion to such a prominent position is intriguing, with some associating it with the weeks-long protests in Inner Mongolia, wrote Liberty Times.

The 41-year-old newscaster may have been chosen to serve as a role model and project a positive image to Mongolians learning Mandarin Chinese, some have speculated.

Beijing has implemented education reforms in the region that will drastically reduce the prominence of the Mongolian language in favor of Mandarin Chinese, sparking student walkouts and protests leading to multiple arrests. The move follows similar assimilation efforts in Tibet and Xinjiang to push for integration into the Han Chinese community, reported South China Morning Post.

The state-backed Inner Mongolia Daily has said many young people in the region still cannot communicate in Mandarin, which it says presents an obstacle “to lifting individuals out of poverty and limiting ethnic unity,” wrote AP.