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- Are Ethnic Tensions On The Rise In China?
This can be best seen in employment in the US that American laws prohibits the discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, religion, marital status, gender, sexual oriental, veteran status, national origin, or disability status. But in China, an ordinary Tibetan or Muslim has been actually denied access to passport! To Mr. If China is truly hoping to achieve national unity and solidary, it should reflect on its politics and policies that have discriminated non-Han populations, not criticizing non-Han ethnic markers. If China really hopes to improve its ethnic relations, then it should hire more legalists and attorneys, not anthropologists or ethnologists, as advisors for their policy formulation.
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Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. By now, this escape valve is the de facto way of dealing with corruption, land-grabs, pension-theft, pollution and the like in the absence of a free press, free courts or other democratic checks on officials and the rich elites with whom they collude. But we use different terminology and lenses for incidents involving Tibetans and Uyghurs than for incidents involving Han Chinese alone.
Their communications are censored more closely; police are immediately sent to violently repress the few peaceful demonstrations that do occur. The suppression of a demonstration by Uyghur students in , sparked the Urumqi riots. Loyal, moderate, but critical voices, such as that of Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti, are more quickly and thoroughly silenced. By signaling to Han and other groups that there is a tolerated way to voice concerns, demonstrate, and otherwise act out their grievances, while brutally repressing similar dissent when it arises from Uyghurs and Tibetans, the Chinese party-state is reinforcing those very ethnic lines of division they claim they want to dissolve.
The first was a video posted on Facebook. The second was an audio file posted on WeChat, the mobile app that has recently become the communication tool of choice for young Uyghurs in Xinjiang. As Jim Millward points out, similar things happen all over China but they are not labelled as terrorism.
One of the eminently moderate and sensible things that Ilham Tohti dared to say before his arrest, in an interview with The Financial Times , was that the suppression of everyday religious practice in Xinjiang was liable to provoke further discontent with the state and encourage stronger religious feeling. How and why has that come about? But the two items I viewed last week took things a step further.
The video showed a young Uyghur man writing to his mother to explain why he was joining the rebel fighters in the mountains, which were portrayed as places of freedom, joy and comradeship. What interested me about this video was that it was not made to provoke anger and hatred but pathos. He was writing to his mother for goodness sake! A group of eleven Uyghur young men did find their way up a mountain in January this year.
What they were doing there is unknown. Reports that the eleven men were unarmed have cast doubt on this interpretation of events, and I suspect that we are unlikely to learn the truth of the matter. In short, we have no way of answering this question with any level of certainty. The sensitivity of ethnic issues in China and the closed nature of society in the P. If the C. What is perhaps more worrying, however, is the perception of a looming minzu crisis inside China. With each incident of Uyghur or Tibetan violence, the chorus for policy change increases, at both a popular and elite level.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in , Chinese policymakers and intellectuals have warned that the P. Today, most Chinese believe current ethnic policies have failed. Yet, any forced or rapid increase in inter-ethnic contact will only exasperate ethnic tensions and violence, in the short term at least. China has its fair share of ethnic problems, but are they any more serious than those confronted by other multiethnic societies across the globe?
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For someone like me who is old enough to have the honor of being at the receiving end of ethnic violence during the Cultural Revolution, the current tension is a piece of cake, as it were. Having said this, there is no denial that we must address ethnic conflicts seriously. In doing so, however, we should not be tempted into a mode of showing sympathy only to the hapless minorities without taking account of the profoundly emotional state of the Chinese. Unlike in the past, today many Chinese blame the State for giving the minorities too much privilege, to the extent of spoiling them.
Xinjiang conflict - Wikipedia
That this sense of Chinese victimhood in the hands of minorities is shared by an increasing number of Chinese scholar-politicians is alarming. The very survival of the C. In other words, ethnic tensions are now regarded by the Chinese populace and its intelligentsia not as something marginal, nor as part of social issues or processes, but fundamental to the existential identity of China and its nation form.
This sense of Chinese victimhood and the proposed redressive measures raise a number of questions about the institutional arrangements that underpin ethnic relations in China. First, to the extent that the Regional Nationality Autonomy is one of the three basic systems of the P. Is China prepared to publicly and constitutionally rescind this covenant between the Party and the minorities, thereby abolishing the C.
To say the least, insofar as the P.
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While current ethnic tensions may be explained in reference to a number of ideologically inflated terms such as Chinese colonialism, nationalism or imperialism, or minority splittism or terrorism, we should account for the intense emotion or indignation expressed by both sides.
Historically, the C. Such a moral differentiation was instrumental for the C. Thus, ethnicity in contemporary China is supposed to be relationships between good ethnic groups. The problem with this conception of good ethnicity is that it has deprived both sides of self-reflexivity, leading to a propensity to blame others. This explains the profound sense of mutual deprivation among the Han and minorities today; neither side admits to being wrong.
There is also something very special about ethnicity in the Chinese cultural milieu. To take for granted the categories provided by the Chinese state is a grave analytic error.
The fifty-six nationalities into which the P. The most extreme example of this arbitrariness is that Mandarins and Mins are equally considered 'Han'—tantamount to labeling Swedes and Englishman 'Germans'. As a result of their classification the Rgyalrong are taught primary school in Tibetan, resulting in a absurd perversion of mother tongue language policy. Most P. The United States embraced such a discourse, as the fate of its indigenous peoples amply testifies. The organization of other polities Belgium, Switzerland, the U. Consider self-immolation.
In setting themselves on fire out of disillusionment and desperation Tibetans are embracing an established Chinese mode of expression. This tragic phenomenon, far from showing ethnic tension, demonstrates the great extent to which Tibetans are actively participating in the dominant trend of sinification. With a pen stroke the Chinese state created its nationalities half a century ago. And it remains a poor fit for a significant group of peoples subsumed under it, especially those people who sincerely see themselves as conquered, and now subject to deleterious Chinese domination in many aspects of life within their own domains.
And for Tibetans and Uyghurs, certainly, the structure is pregnant with the ingredients that precipitate the sort of tensions that the original question implies. The fact that the structure is top down, and exists in an atmosphere in which the peoples subject to it have no free voice with which to fully contest it—to whatever extent they feel moved to do so—further exacerbates tensions. The restrictions on free speech are, of course, not unique to the situation of the shaoshu minzu.
But it is such a pervasive thing that it is easy to pass over it in discussions of specific minzu policies. And this brings up something else.
How useful is it to approach the question just by quantifying the number of clashes between the state and, say, Tibetans or Uyghurs, during specific periods? This approach scants the effect of repressive measures, e. Is the level of tension only to be understood from observable protest activities? I think this is far too simple.
One must beware of not falling into the trap of measuring not the level of tension, but the effectiveness of repression. Much of this is intellectual and mystical, but these are people looking for an identity who are somewhat vulnerable to being radicalized. Since then, hotels in Han areas of China refuse to accommodate Tibetans or Uyghurs and are required to report any Tibetans, Uyghurs or sometimes Mongols who enter their premises to the Public Security Bureau. Since then, the immediate tensions arising from the events have subsided and the intensity of nationalistic fervor generated during the Olympic year has also softened.
But the Tibetans and Uyghurs have never been model minorities: this is not new. The tensions between these two groups and the State have always existed and will continue to do so. This is as much to do with historical memories and territorial disputes that have lasted centuries as with current policies; these are not recent inventions.
In the case of the Tibetans, until recently the Tibetan populations had very little contact with Han Chinese except in border regions. Incidents of open conflict between the two groups based on ethnic animosity or tension were rare in the past, and never approached the type of visible mass ethnic riots common in multi-ethnic cities around the world today.
Are Ethnic Tensions On The Rise In China?
Even now, most Tibetans live in areas that are relatively isolated ethnically and very rarely come into contact with Chinese. Similarly, the vast majority of Hans have no contact with Tibetans. So the type of ethnic tension that is prevalent in Western cities is not visible in China, and most Chinese cities do not have ethnic ghettos with no-go areas for different groups. This is starting to change as the phenomenon of mass migration pushes Chinese to outlying areas and slowly generates ethnic enclaves.