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
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