A Britain-based Tibet solidarity group says Chinese policies are undermining the use of Tibetan language with the goal of eventually eliminating it entirely.
The Free Tibet Campaign told VOA Thursday that there are no prospects for gainful employment in Tibet without fluency in Chinese. Acting Director Anne Holmes says the situation forces Tibetan parents to choose between their children's culture and future careers. As a result, she says Tibetan parents are increasingly educating their children in Chinese from the earliest age possible. Others make the dangerous choice to smuggle their children over the Himalayas to Tibetan schools in India.
Her organization released a report Thursday to mark the "International Mother Language Day," designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao dismissed the report's findings. During a Thursday press briefing, Liu said Tibetan is widely spoken in Tibet.
Holmes says the report is based on interviews with people in Tibet, as well as former teachers and students in the Tibetan exile community in India. She says Chinese authorities realize Tibetans will not accept the occupation of their homeland, and so they plan to assimilate Tibetans into Chinese culture.
As evidence, she points to the new railway which has increased the flow of Han Chinese migrants to Tibet.
Chinese Communist troops took control of Tibetan areas between 1949 and 1951 and established the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965. At the time of the 1990 census, slightly over half of China's Tibetan population lived outside the TAR in the adjoining provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan, as well as Gansu province.