The Power of Chinese Assimilation

Andrew Clark contributed a post to Politics Daily about China’s minorities and the autonomous regions they call home. As Andrew clearly pointed out, “Han Chinese make up 92 percent of the People’s Republic of China. The remaining 8 percent is made up of minority groups, mainly Tibetan, Zhuang, Uyghur, Mongolian, Miao, Manchu, and Hui (these are the major ethnic groups — China officially recognizes 55 minority populations).”

Clark concludes with, “It remains to be seen whether the Chinese government can successfully assimilate these groups, or if consistent suppression of uprisings can force social tranquility.”

The Chinese map has inflated and deflated for more than two-thousand years. Some of these minorities have been in China longer than others. The Mongolians Clark visited, like the Tibetans and the Uyghur, are three who haven’t been inside China as long since they were conquered by the Qing Dynasty (the Manchu minority), who ruled China from 1644 – 1911.

One other minority ruled China for a brief time and that was the Mongols as the Yuan Dynasty (1277 – 1367). Both the rulers of the Qing and the Yuan were assimilated into the Han culture while they ruled China. That’s was primarily because they were surrounded by Han Chinese in the capital.

Tibet broke from China in 1913 and stayed out until 1950 when Mao sent an army into Tibet, which has always been a difficult place for China to rule since sending armies there to enforce control was difficult. But today, a highway and a railroad make that journey easy. If those transportation routes are cut, there’s still air transportation. The travel distance between Tibet and  Beijing is shorter than it was a century ago.

Currently, China is adding about 40 thousand more kilometers of rail throughout China and building another grid of high-speed rail. This improved transportation system is also bringing about change and causing a Han migration that would have been unthinkable more than a century ago when most of China didn’t have electricity or roads.

For centuries, China ruled over these minorities without moving Han Chinese into their territories, but times have changed and the Han Chinese, like the Americans Europeans moving West, have been migrating into the autonomous regions for years, which may have more of an impact keeping these territories part of China than armies ever have. And if that doesn’t work, China still has the largest standing army in the world.

Clark also claimed, “the United States has seemingly countless ethnic and cultural minorities that are proud to call themselves American…”  While somewhat true, many of almost 2,500 American native tribes still  hold to their old ways and live on reservations proud to be Navaho or Sioux, Black Foot or Apache, maybe more so than being American.

If given a choice,  many of these North American tribes would jump at the chance to have their ancestral homes back. But the FBI keeps a tight watch over these American minorities, and the US Marines are always a phone call away. Then there is the fact that Alaska and Hawaii both have strong secessionist movements.

Discover more about Minorites in China


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China

4 Responses to The Power of Chinese Assimilation

  1. Terry Chen says:

    When China took over the lands of others, they granted them autonomy and sought to gradually assimilate the different cultures.

    When western countries invaded other lands, they exterminated the natives.

    Imagine how much worse western media would depict China if the Chinese had done the same. Considering how badly China is slandered for ‘opressing its minorities’, I shudder to imagine such a scenario.

  2. While I was living in Hawaii one year ago, some of the old loyalists to the Hawaiian royal family and an heir apparent stormed the royal palace and took control of it to claim Hawaii’s independence from the United States government. There is also a whole region of the island of Oahu, where all “white” people know not to go, unless they want to face physical punishment and potential death. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it happening in the United States.

    • And we seldom if ever hear about this in the American media but let any minority in China do the same thing and it is front page news and the language makes what China does to counter the challenge sound evil.

Comments are welcome — pro or con. However, comments must focus on the topic of the post, be civil and avoid ad hominem attacks.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: