6 February 1956
Premier Zhou Enlai
Chinese is the main language of our country, and it is also the language used by the most people around the world, moreover, it is one of the most developed languages worldwide. Language is a tool for communication, and is also a tool for social struggle and development. At present, Chinese is serving the great undertaking of Socialist construction conducted by our country’s people. Learning Chinese well, has an important significance to our country’s Socialist undertaking.
Because of historical reasons, the development of Chinese has not yet reached a stage of complete unification. Many gravely diverging dialects have hampered conversation between people from different regions, creating many inconveniences in the undertaking of Socialist construction. Some ununified or ungrammatical phenomena in the language do not only exist orally, but also exist in writing. In written language, and even in publications, the confusion in vocabulary and grammar is rather grave. For the sake of our country’s political, economic, cultural and national defence progress and development, these phenomena must be effectively eliminated.
The basis for unifying Chinese already exists, this is the Putonghua with Beijing pronunciation as standard pronunciation, northern speech as basic dialect, and with model modern vernacular prose writings as grammatical standard. Spreading this Putonghua in the culture and education system and in all aspects of the people’s lives, is an important way to stimulate Chinese to achieve complete unification. For this purpose, the State Council instructs the following:
(1) Starting in the autumn of 1956, apart from ethnic minority regions, teaching of Putonghua will begin in the language courses of primary and secondary schools nationwide, without exception. By 1960, primary school students in the third year or higher, secondary school and normal school students should basically be able to speak Putonghua, all primary and normal school teachers should use Putonghua to teach, secondary and vocational school teachers should also basically use Putonghua to teach. All higher education language teaching should also add Putonghua content. Secondary and higher education school students who are about to graduate and young teachers and assistant teachers in higher education schools, if they cannot yet speak Putonghua, should conduct short-time supplementary study, for the convenience of their work. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education should separately decide on specialized plans to forcefully strengthen all school levels’ Chinese education and stimulate the standardization of Chinese, and report them to the State Council for approval and implementation.
(2) The language and literature course in cultural education of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops and language and literature courses in all school levels subordinate to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army should all use Putonghua for teaching. Soldiers, within one year of enlisting in the military, or all levels’ military school students, within one year of starting school, should all learn to use Putonghua. All organs’ part-time school language and literature teaching should have Putonghua as the norm.
(3) All local Youth League branches and all levels’ labour union organizations should adopt appropriate and effective means do spread Putonghua among the youth and among workers. Youth League members should set a pioneering example in learning and spreading Putonghua. Culture coaching schools in factories (and first and foremost large factories), culture coaching classes and through-the-year spare time schools’ high level classes in the countryside should all, as far as possible and progressively spread Putonghua teaching.
(4) Radio and television stations in all localities nationwide should cooperate with all localities’ work committees for spreading Putonghua, and organize Putonghua lectures. All broadcasting stations in dialect regions, in their regular broadcast programming, must appropriately include programmes using Putonghua, in order to help the local listeners to progressively learn to understand Putonghua and learn to speak Putonghua. Nationwide broadcasting personnel and nationwide film actors, professional theatre actors and vocal music (song) performers, must all receive Putonghua training. Among Beijing opera and other opera performers, Putonghua should also be progressively spread.
(5) The editorial personnel of newspaper publishers, news agencies, magazine publishers and publishing houses nationwide, should lean Putonghua and common knowledge of grammar and rhetoric, and strengthen writing style editing work over contributions. The Ministry of Culture should supervise Central first-level and all local levels’ publishing organs to appoint personnel to be responsible, establish systems, train cadres, formulate plans, and in two to five years respectively basically eliminate the phenomenon of confusion that should not be there in publications’ wording and phrasing.
(6) Nationwide railway, communications, post and telegraph undertaking service personnel, service personnel of commercial enterprises in large cities and mining areas, work personnel of hygiene undertakings in large cities and mining areas, police in large cities and mining areas, work personnel in judicial organs, journalists of newspaper publishers and news agencies, work personnel in cultural centres and stations, and work personnel in county-level or higher organs and organizations, should all learn Putonghua. All abovementioned corresponding organs should differentiate situations, formulate concrete plans concerning their subordinate work personnel learning Putonghua, and are responsible for implementation, enabling all their subordinate work personnel who regularly come in contact with the masses in all aspects to master Putonghua within a certain time.
(7) All foreign exchange translation personnel, apart from special requirements, should use Putonghua to translate without exception.
(8) The Chinese Character Reform Committee should, in the first half of 1956, complete the Hanyu Pinyin Scheme, in order to convenience Putonghua teaching and character transcription.
(9) In order to assist the teaching of Putonghua, the Chinese Academy of Sciences Language Research Centre should compile a Putonghua pronunciation dictionary with correct pronunciation standards as objective in 1956, and in 156 compile a modern Chinese dictionary with correct vocabulary standards as objective, and, in consultation with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, organize the forces of all localities’ normal schools and university language departments, to complete the preliminary investigation work of every county’s dialect nationwide in 1956 or 1957. All provincial education offices should, within 1956, according to the characteristics of all provincial dialects, compile booklets on learning Putonghua for the people in those provinces. The Ministry of Education and the Broadcast Undertaking Bureau should record large numbers of recordings teaching Putonghua. The Ministry of Culture should produce films propagating Putonghua and teaching Putonghua within 1956.
(10) In order to foster cadres for the work of spreading Putonghua, the Ministry of Education should regularly organize Putonghua pronunciation research classes, train all localities’ secondary and normal school language teachers and administrative education cadres, all organs, organizations and troops should also delegate appropriate cadres to participate in training. At the same time, all provincial, city and county administrative education organs shall also generally organize Putonghua pronunciation short-term training classes, to train primary and secondary school and normal school language teachers in all localities, local organs, organizations and troops should also send appropriate cadres to participate in study.
(11) The State Council sets up a Putonghua Spreading Work Committee, to uniformly lead the nationwide work to spread Putonghua. Its daily work is to be conducted by the Chinese Character Reform Committee, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Culture, the Chinese Academy of Sciences Language Research Centre according to the division of work: the Chinese Character Reform Committee is responsible for overall work planning, guidance and inspection; the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education are responsible for leadership over Putonghua teaching in all levels’ schools and part-time schools, the training of Putonghua teachers and the provision of Putonghua teaching materials; the Ministry of Culture is responsible for language standardization work in publications, the publishing of books and periodicals related to Putonghua and the production of recordings and films; the Language Research Centre is responsible for researching and propagating Putonghua pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar standardization. All provincial and city Peoples Committees should set up similar committees, with all provincial and city education offices or bureaus as the regular work organs.
(12) All ethnic minority regions should energetically spread Putonghua among the Han people in all regions. All ethnic minority schools’ Chinese education should have Chinese Putonghua as standard. Chinese broadcasts on ethnic minority regions’ radio stations should use Putonghua as much as possible. All autonomous region People’s Committees may set up work committees to spread Putonghua, in order to uniformly lead the work to spread Putonghua among the people in autonomous regions who speak Chinese.