Beijing appears poised to extend language policy to ethnic Korean schools in China

Chinese Koreans fear erosion of native language through compulsory Mandarin education

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Chinese Koreans worry language may be in crosshairs amid Beijing's education reforms. (Weibo, Jilin Travel photo)

Chinese Koreans worry language may be in crosshairs amid Beijing's education reforms. (Weibo, Jilin Travel photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following Beijing's introduction of a compulsory Chinese-language curriculum in its Inner Mongolia region, some schools for ethnic Koreans in Northeast China have also been asked to replace their teaching materials with all-Mandarin textbooks.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, some Korean-majority elementary and junior high schools in the Chinese provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang will no longer use Korean-language textbooks starting in the new semester in September. Although the schools have yet to receive clear government instructions like those of Inner Mongolia have, they have been asked to enhance their Mandarin instruction and try to limit the use of Korean on campuses.

Korean Chinese communities worry that the new directive will result in the "collapse of Korean education" and the gradual disappearance of the language in China. Some also fear that college entrance policies that allow minority students to take exams in their native tongue will be canceled as teaching materials are replaced.

There are approximately 1.8 million ethnic Koreans in China. Among them, some 2,000 students studying in Korean schools take the national college entrance exams every year, according to UDN.

Although the Chinese government has defended its language reform as part of an assimilation policy to promote national unity, many international experts see it as an attempt to eradicate minority cultures within the country. Since it was announced, the policy has sparked protests and student walkouts in Inner Mongolia, and armed police sent to the region have made dozens of arrests.