[Han minority must study Tibetan language]

The Straits Times, 24 May 2002

BEIJING—China has passed a new law to require people from its Han majority living in Tibet to study the Tibetan language and protect it from ‘globalisation’.

The provision was included in a law passed on Wednesday by Tibet's Parliament and was aimed at protecting the ancient language from ‘globalisation’, according to the official China Daily.

Many overseas groups claim that the biggest threat to Tibet's unique traditional culture comes from deliberate Chinese attempts to eradicate the region's legacy.

The newspaper did not say whether the law provides specific standards for the level of proficiency that Han Chinese and other non-Tibetans will have to attain.

The report said that the Tibetan language began to evolve only 1,300 years ago. While a written language for Tibetan was developed in the seventh century AD, the language itself is believed to be much older.

It is now spoken by an estimated five million people, not only in Tibet proper, but also in the Chinese provinces of Qinghai and Gansu and in parts of the Indian subcontinent. —AFP