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Radio Free Asia

China Recruits Mandarin Teachers Amid Ongoing Crackdown in Inner Mongolia

2020-12-01 -- The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is mass recruiting secondary school teachers to work in the northern region of Inner Mongolia amid ongoing arrests, protests, and class boycotts at plans to phase out Mongolian-medium teaching in schools.

Online government documents issued in the weeks since protests rocked the region in early September reveal government plans to hire more than 1,000 teachers across the region.

Local banner and league governments across the region have also posted recruitment ads for hundreds of teachers from elsewhere in China to relocate to the region and teach Mandarin.

"After written examinations, interviews, physical examinations and other recruitment procedures, the education departments of the leagues and cities plan to hire a total of 1,883 teachers to these special posts," an official Inner Mongolian government testing and recruitment site announced in September.

It said the move was in line with a directive from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region government to recruit "special post" teachers for rural areas and to teach in areas where ethnic Mongolians still follow a traditional herding lifestyle.

A recruitment document posted to the official website of the Kuulun Banner government meanwhile said it would be publishing recruitment exam scores and invitations to interview between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2.

Yang Haiying, a university professor born in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, and now living in Japan, said the move was the next step in the CCP's bid to eliminate Mongolian mother-tongue education.

"So, they are recruiting from the rest of China, not Inner Mongolia, which means they are basically looking for Han Chinese," Yang said. "Then, once they get to Inner Mongolia, they will replace ethnic Mongolian teachers, furthering their policy of assimilation."

"That is their aim," he said.

Recruits are expected to be under the age of 35, holding a bachelor's degree or above, and must show evidence of "ideological, moral, and political performance" issued by their current employer.

At least one batch of 300 teachers will be tested in mid-December, documents showed. But Yang said this was likely just the start of a much longer process.

"There will definitely be inward migration on a much larger scale to follow," Yang said. "They did the same thing during the Cultural Revolution [1966-1976] ... when they recruited a lot of farmers from the rest of China, saying it was to safeguard the borders."

"But that was just a pretext; they lied to the ethnic Mongolians," he said.

Thousands arrested or detained

An estimated 10,000 people have been arrested or placed under other forms of detention since hundreds of thousands of Mongolian students and their families staged a regionwide civil disobedience campaign against the phasing out of Mongolian in schools that were previously Mongolian-medium.

While many have since been released, some high profile activists including rights lawyer Hu Baolong and activist Yang Jindulima remain in incommunicado detention, according to Nomin, an ethnic Mongolian currently in the U.S.

"In Bairin Right Banner and Orniud Banner, there have been more than [60] people detained, including more than 30 in Bairin Right Banner, all of whom are women," Nomin said.

"The government has also required local [ethnic Mongolian] officials to publicly support the new language policy on TV, but some of them resigned because they refused to do this -- this has happened a lot," Nomin said, citing the resignations of three CCP secretaries of villages, or soms, and a school principal in Heshigten Banner.

Seven ethnic Mongolian staff at the region's Mongolian-language official TV station were also detained after they refused to show public support for the policy, Nomin said.

"They were taken down to the local police station in handcuffs and leg irons," Nomin said. "They accused them of being the ringleaders."

Khubis, a Mongolian scholar living in Japan, said nobody is discussing the current situation on the tightly censored social media platform WeChat, for fear of official retaliation.

"I have been watching, and nobody is talking about the language issue," Khubis said. "Anyone who does talk about it could be detained immediately."

"There has to be a police officer added to every group chat between parents and students."

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Lau Siu Fung for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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