The Pakistan Senate has had to issue a clarification with regards to a resolution they passed on Monday, settling, beyond any doubt, claims from media outlets across the border that Pakistan had declared Chinese to be a third official language.
The Senate had passed a resolution on Monday that immediate access to Chinese language training be given to those working on or planning to work on the CPEC project, so as to minimise any costly language barriers.
However, in what ironically turned out to almost be like a game of Chinese whisper, one local television channel misreported the passage of the resolution, saying that the Senate had declared Chinese a third national language.
— AbbTakk (@AbbTakk) February 19, 2018
Pakistani Senate approves motion to declare Chinese as ‘Official Language’. Not to forget that regional languages of Pakistan face extinction and Senate wants to impose Chinese because of #CPEC? pic.twitter.com/vQsWj5Julf
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) February 19, 2018
This news report was then promptly picked up by the Indian media, where it was widely reported as the truth
“CPEC effect: Pakistan tags China’s Mandarin as official language month after replacing dollar with yuan for bilateral trade” read the headline from the Financial Express.
“To enhance CPEC communication, Pakistan makes China’s Mandarin an official language” said the story from Zee News. Times Now reported the ‘news’ with the headline “Pakistan tilts further towards China, makes Mandarin one of its official languages,” although it is now the only one of these news outlets to have retracted their stories.
One half-clever headline as reported by India Today was “Ni Hao: Pakistan Senate approves motion to teach Chinese in govt schools.”
The fake news, which spread like wild fire, was also monitored by News18, Outlook.com, India.com and International Business Times, and managed to prompt reactions from a number of prominent personalities.
In a short span of 70 years, #Pakistan has flirted with promoting four languages that were not the mother tongue of many people in the country — English, Urdu, Arabic, & now Chinese —ignoring native languages. https://t.co/6y0zKvK20m
— Husain Haqqani (@husainhaqqani) February 19, 2018
— TANUJ GARG (@tanuj_garg) February 20, 2018
44% Pakistanis speak Punjabi & rest speak Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi & host of other languages. Ignoring all these languages, Pak just declared Chinese (Mandarin) to be an official language of the nation. And no one in Pak speaks Chinese. Pakistan totally respects hard cash.
— Major Gaurav Arya (@majorgauravarya) February 19, 2018
Meanwhile, the clarification from the Chairman Senate read that “Chairman Senate while presiding the sitting of the House on Tuesday February 20, 2018 has clarified the impression with reagrd to passing of resolution by the Upper House on Chinese language on Monday.”
The actual wording, as per the clarification, reads “This house recommends that, in light of the growing affiliation between Pakistan and China under CPEC, courses of the official Chinese language may immediately be made accessible to all current and prospective Pakistani CPEC human resources, so as to overcome any costly communication barrier.”