This decision is part of a broader strategy by the Biden administration to address China’s treatment of its ethnic minorities, with a particular focus on the Tibetan and Xinjiang Uighur regions. In his statement, US secretary of state Antony Blinken expressed concerns about what he called “coercive strategies” that seem to erode Tibet’s distinct linguistic and cultural traditions, particularly among younger Tibetans. He emphasized this, saying:
We call on PRC authorities to halt the compulsory enrollment of Tibetan children into government-controlled boarding schools and to desist from stringent assimilation methods, both within Tibet and in other PRC territories. We stand steadfast in our endeavor to work alongside international allies and partners, drawing attention to these practices and advocating for accountability.
In 2021, a pivotal policy shift in Beijing’s approach to educating minority children became evident with the release of
The Outline on the Development of Chinese Children (2021-2030).
The original document emphasized the rights of ethnic minority children to be educated in their native languages, with specific mention of “respect and protect the rights of children of ethnic minorities to be educated in their own language”. The original document emphasized the rights of ethnic minority children to be educated in their native languages, with specific mentions that “respect and protect the rights of children from ethnic minorities to be educated in their own language”. China’s ethnic diversity is rich in history, with 56 ethnic groups recognized. The Han Chinese are the majority of these ethnic groups, while 55 other minorities make up a large part of China’s culture. The implications of this move are deeper than they appear. The rights and preservation of their languages and cultures have always been a point of discussion.Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin firmly objected to the US sanctions, emphasizing Tibet’s unparalleled human rights environment and cultural preservation. Wang Wenbin explained that Tibet’s boarding school system was necessary, given the vast terrain and the dispersed population of the region. He stressed that students and their parents can choose to attend these schools, with the option of returning home on weekends, holidays and during traditional Tibetan festivals. Wang emphasized the cultural inclusivity of the schools by mentioning courses on Tibetan tradition and the freedom for students to consume Tibetan food and wear traditional clothing. He dismissed allegations of “forced assimilation” as baseless.Amid these tensions, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo is set to visit Beijing and Shanghai from August 27-30 to engage in constructive dialogues with senior PRC officials and U.S. business leaders. The trip follows President Biden’s previous meeting with President Xi, in which both countries attempted to improve their communication. Raimondo’s visit is a concentrated effort to explore potential areas of cooperation and discuss the challenges U.S. companies face in China.