Tibetan students in Qinghai province protested again on Thursday against policies to extend the use of Chinese language in classes, Reuters reported on Thursday, quoting the London-based Free-Tibet group. Also according to Free Tibet in London, some 2,000 students protested in Chabcha county in Tibet. According to a BBC report on Monday, the protests which had entered their second week have so far been staged in the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan. Some Gonghe County (共和县) residents (Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, 海南藏族自治州) told the BBC’s Chinese website that they had heard about demonstrations, but didn’t know anything specific about them. The demonstrations, according to the reports, involve middle schools (藏文中学的学生), merely or among others. According to Free Tibet in London, the first demonstrations took place in Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s (黄南藏族自治州) Tonren County (同仁县), also known as Rebkong in Tibetan.
There seem to be no confirmations or other reactions on official websites yet, such as Tongren People’s Government website. However, the Global Times‘ English edition quotes a Tongren county spokesman today as saying that there had been a peaceful protest on Tuesday morning, and also adds unofficial accounts of other protests. On Tuesday, October 19, when the first demonstrations – according to Free Tibet London – began, the county’s government website reported that
Qinghai Province is a vast territory with sparse population, difficult communication, and the speeding up informatization (信息化) is of particular importance (青海省幅员辽阔，地广人稀，交通不便，加快信息化建设具有特殊而重要的意义).
Tsering Woeser, a researcher and blogger in Beijing with Tibetan ancestry, had difficulty gathering information about the protests in Tibet because of a frequently paralyzed internet (网络 .. 瘫痪了), but writes that she was able to keep herself informed about the main developments.
More than two months ago, tens of thousands of people in Guangdong took to the street to stand up for their Cantonese language, Woeser writes, and muses:
The scenes are similar, but I don’t know if the outcomes will be similar, too. This will therefore require further observation. (当然，也由此想到两个多月前，在广州，有上千广东人走上街头挺粤语。广东人挺粤语，藏人挺藏语，看上去场景相似，却不知结局似乎也相似，故而需要进一步的观察。)
In summer this year, both in mainland China’s Guangdong province, and in Hong Kong, demonstrators had protested against a proposal by Ji Kekuang (姬科况, or 姬科礦, or 姬科桄… – JR), a member of the CPPCC Guangzhou committee, had advocated a reduction of Cantonese language usage in favor of Standard Chinese or putonghua, and Guangzhou’s municipal committee moved along, proposing that Guangzhou TV’s most popular channels start broadcasting in the central government-designated national language of Putonghua, also known as Mandarin, rather than in Cantonese.
Woeser’s blog entry seems to suggest that Ji Kekuang’s initiative was doomed as soon as it saw the day of the light. If the Tibetan students’ protests will be heeded too is, at best, an open question.
“I think they are causing a disturbance without reason. I understand it has been organised by the Dalai Lama to target the Olympics”, the BBC quoted “one man” (no nationality given) in Lanzhou on Monday.