One important dimension that minority education in China involves is language education. Globalization has created new aspects of politics and economics; it has also revived or re-created a plethora of language ideologies. Language ideology (also known as linguistic ideology) is an ideology about a particular language and its use. In China’s mainstream ideology of language, Chinese is regarded the carrier of civilization and minority languages should be “upgraded” or “replaced” since they lack “scientific expressions” and other important elements of “a modern language”.
There are two ways to refute such a linguistic prejudice. First, as Aristotle and others have pointed out that “things” and their imprint in the mind are universal for the human being while the phonic expressions of such “things” and “imprints” are quite different across nations and states. Therefore languages are different “voices” of such universal “things” and “imprints” and no particular language can be privileged and is better than others. Second, as it shows clearly in the recent research of the links between linguistic diversity and biodiversity that languages can complement each other and form a symbiotic system; and that linguistic diversity helps maintain biodiversity and therefore helps build and maintain a better world of happiness and dignity.
Even in Chinese traditional thinking there has been symbiotic ideologies such as mei mei yu gong (the coexistence of beauties) advanced by Confucius. Linguistic diversity does not necessarily lead to separatism and it can be the foundation for “overlapping consensus” at a much higher level where the psychic unity of humankind rules.
Multilingual education is more preferable and more practical. More diversity and more deliberation / negotiation is the future. And China is no exception.