Pakistani and Indian media jumped on a story last month that Pakistan had decided to make Chinese one of the country’s official languages, in addition Urdu and English. According to reports, the Senate of Pakistan had approved a motion to this effect to strengthen the country’s ties with China and help those people working on the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to communicate better.
In India, it was reported as another example of Pakistan’s appeasement of rival China, with headlines like “CPEC Effect: Pakistan Tags China’s Mandarin as Official Language Month after Replacing Dollar with Yuan for Bilateral Trade,” from the Financial Express. However, the story was fake news.
A motion pertaining to the Chinese language had indeed been passed in the Pakistani Senate, with a mention of CPEC and the word official in it, but it merely suggested that the official Chinese language be taught in Pakistan: “This House recommends that, in view of the growing collaboration between Pakistan and China under the CPEC, courses of the Official Chinese Language should be launched for all current and prospective Pakistani CPEC human resource in order to overcome any costly communication barriers.”
The motion was not about making Chinese an official language of Pakistan, but it still demonstrates the growing allegiance between the countries on either side of India. Chinese language learning is becoming increasingly popular in Pakistan, but Pakistan has not afforded official status to a foreign language in a country that has numerous indigenous, regional languages, many of which are in dire need of revitalization.