News and Views on Tibet

Tibetans express anguish over China’s ban of Tibetan language on Douyin

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Screengrab of Tibetans on social media criticising Chinese government's ban on Tibetan language and posts on Douyin

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, July 9: Tibetans in Tibet have voiced concerns and anguish over the Chinese government’s decision to ban the Tibetan language and remove Tibetan language posts on Douyin, China’s version of the popular social media platform TikTok. This decision has sparked widespread outrage among Tibetans, highlighting the ongoing struggle for cultural and linguistic freedoms online. 

In a widely circulated video on X (formerly Twitter), a Tibetan netizen vehemently expressed discontentment over the deliberate ban and removal of Tibetan language posts on Douyin. “I question whether Douyin holds more power and authority than the nation and the legal system. Is Douyin more powerful than the state? What is the reality here? To clarify, the state’s policies explicitly grant protection for cultural preservation and language promotion, a mandate supported by both the legal system and the government,” he stated.

In another video, a Tibetan woman is seen lamenting the removal of Tibetan language posts on TikTok in China. “I am a native Tibetan speaker and cannot speak perfect Chinese. Why am I not allowed to post in my native language?” she questioned.

In another widely circulated recent video, a Tibetan man can be seen criticising China’s ban on the use of the Tibetan language in live broadcasts. “An anchor confirmed the ban after speaking a few words of Tibetan and getting banned. Despite China’s Constitution protecting national languages, TikTok discriminates against the Tibetan language,” he remarked.

The ban on the Tibetan language in Douyin is part of a wider pattern of suppression and delegitimisation of the native language in Tibet. Over the years, the Chinese government has implemented various policies aimed at diminishing Tibetan cultural practices, including restrictions on religious freedom, language and instead the promotion of Mandarin over Tibetan in schools. This latest move is seen as an extension of these policies into the digital realm. 

The Dharamshala-based rights group, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), has condemned this move, calling it “a flagrant violation of provisions enshrined in Chinese constitution as well as Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law, which promised but rarely granted meaningful autonomous powers to ethnic minorities including Tibetans,” 

One Response

  1. At “One can perhaps find within ‘the state’s policies’ verbal support for every right articulated by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. But China is a totalitarian dictatorship, and propagandistic bogus assertions about protection of ‘freedom of speech’ and other rights are invariably attended by the implicit or explicit proviso ‘unless you say or do something that the state prohibits.’ “

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