China aims to have 85% of its citizens speaking Mandarin by 2025

Shanghai China Pedestrians

An order issued Tuesday by China’s cabinet said use of Mandarin, the country’s national language, needs to be more widely adopted, threatening the usage of other dialects in China.

Language campaign: China is trying to promote the use of Mandarin with a goal of 85% of its citizens speaking the “common tongue” by 2025, according to the Associated Press.

  • The State Council also aims to achieve universal Mandarin use throughout the country, including in rural areas and among ethnic minorities, by 2035.
  • China’s ruling Communist Party says language conformity is necessary for the sake of the economy and national unity.
  • The Associated Press reported the order demanded further measures to “ensure that the national common spoken and written language is used as the official language of government agencies and used as the basic language of schools, news and publications, radio, film and television, public services and other fields.”
  • It also calls on officials to promote Chinese in academia, international organizations and at global gatherings.

Controversy: By promoting the use of the national language over other languages, the government puts regional Chinese dialects, such as Cantonese and Hokkien, and minority languages, such as Tibetan, Mongolian and Uyghur, at risk of being lost forever.

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  • Critics pointed out that the steady erosion of languages was in part caused by changes to the Chinese education system and employment requirements. Some have called it a campaign to eradicate cultures that don’t conform with the dominant Han ethnic group.

The promotion of Mandarin over other languages has sparked occasional protests, including last year in the Inner Mongolia region when the Mongolian language was replaced by standard Mandarin as the language of instruction.

Feature Image Courtesy of Getty Images

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