China defends language policies in Tibetan areas

BEIJING — Chinese officials tried to defuse discontent following days of student protests in ethnically Tibetan areas, saying a plan to teach classes only in Mandarin Chinese was not aimed at wiping out Tibet's native tongue, state media reported Saturday.
Changes won't be forced in areas where "conditions are not ripe," the official Xinhua News Agency cited Wang Yubo, the Qinghai province education department director, as saying. The report did not elaborate on how officials would make that determination.
The London-based group Free Tibet has said that hundreds, possibly thousands, of middle, high school and college students joined the demonstrations.