The United States’ response to concerns about the treatment of ethnic minorities, particularly in Tibet, by imposing visa restrictions on Chinese officials involved in the operation of state-run boarding schools.
Imposed Visa Restrictions on Chinese Officials
According to the article of Counter Vortex, the US Department of State has taken a significant step by imposing visa restrictions on Chinese officials associated with the controversial “forced assimilation” of over a million Tibetan children in state-run boarding schools. This move is part of the Biden administration’s broader strategy aimed at addressing China’s treatment of its ethnic minority populations, with a particular focus on Tibet and the Xinjiang Uighur regions.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement issued on August 29, expressed deep concerns about what he described as “coercive” tactics that undermine the distinct linguistic, cultural, and religious heritage of Tibet, particularly among young Tibetans. He urged Chinese authorities to cease the mandatory enrollment of Tibetan children in government-controlled boarding schools and to refrain from aggressive assimilation efforts, both within Tibet and in other areas under Chinese jurisdiction. The United States is committed to collaborating with international allies and partners to shed light on these practices and advocate for accountability.
In 2021, Beijing altered its approach to educating children from ethnic minority backgrounds with the release of the National Program for Child Development (2021-2030). Notably, the previous policy emphasized the importance of “respecting and protecting the rights of children of ethnic minorities to be educated in their own language,” but this language was conspicuously absent in the updated version. Instead, the focus shifted toward promoting the use of the national language, Mandarin, suggesting a move toward centralized Mandarin-language instruction for ethnic minority students.
China’s Ethnic Diversity and US-China Relations Amid Visa Sanctions
As indicated in the article of Jurist, it’s essential to note that China is home to 56 recognized ethnic groups, with the Han Chinese constituting the majority. In response to the US sanctions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin defended Tibet’s boarding schools, citing the region’s vast and dispersed population. He emphasized that students have the freedom to return home during weekends, holidays, and traditional Tibetan festivals, dismissing allegations of “forced assimilation” as unfounded.
Amid these tensions, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo prepared to embark on a visit to Beijing and Shanghai for discussions with senior Chinese officials and US business leaders, underscoring the complex relationship between the two nations.