China has been divided over the last two millennia, longer than its been unified; can it maintain national unity until the next century? History suggests otherwise. Indeed, with the reacquisition of Macao in late , China is the only country in the world that is expanding its territory instead of reducing it. Will China be able to continue to resist the inexorable forces of globalization and nationalism? Just as linguistic diversity within China leads Chinese linguists such as John DeFrancis to speak of the many Chinese languages, attention to cultural diversity should force us to give further weight to the plurality of the Chinese peoples in national politics.
A former American President once claimed to know the mind of "the Chinese. Have any U.
While ethnic diversity does not necessitate ethnic separatism or violence, growing ethnic awareness and expression in China should inform policy that takes into account the interests of China's many peoples, not just those in power. China policy should represent more than the interests of those in Beijing. Officially, China is made up of 56 nationalities: one majority nationality, the Han, and 55 minority groups. The peoples identified as Han comprise 91 percent of the population from Beijing in the north to Canton in the south and include the Hakka, Fujianese, Cantonese, and other groups MacKerras These Han are thought to be united by a common history, culture, and written language; differences in language, dress, diet, and customs are regarded as minor and superficial.
The rest of the population is divided into 55 official "minority" nationalities that are mostly concentrated along the borders, such as the Mongolians and Uyghurs in the north and the Zhuang, Yi, and Bai in southern China, near southeast Asia. Other groups, such as the Hui and Manchus, are scattered throughout the nation, and there are minorities in every province, region, and county. An active state-sponsored program assists these official minority cultures and promotes their economic development with mixed results. The outcome, according to China's preeminent sociologist, Fei Xiaotong, is a "unified multinational" state Fei But even this recognition of diversity understates the divisions within the Chinese population, especially the wide variety of culturally and ethnically diverse groups within the majority Han population Honig These groups have recently begun to rediscover and reassert their different cultures, languages, and history.
Yet as the Chinese worry and debate over their own identity, policymakers in other nations still take the monolithic Han identity for granted. The notion of a Han person Han ren dates back centuries and refers to descendants of the Han dynasty that flourished at about the same time as the Roman Empire. But the concept of Han nationality Han minzu is an entirely modern phenomenon that arose with the shift from the Chinese empire to the modern nation-state Duara In the early part of this century, Chinese reformers had been concerned that the Chinese people lacked a sense of nationhood, unlike Westerners and even China's other peoples such as Tibetans and Manchus.
In the view of these reformers, Chinese unity stopped at the clan or community level rather than extending to the nation as a whole.
Sun Yat-Sen, leader of the republican movement that toppled the last imperial dynasty of China the Qing in , popularized the idea that there were "Five Peoples of China"--the majority Han being one and the others being the Manchus, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Hui a term that included all Muslims in China, now divided into Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Hui, etc.
Sun was a Cantonese, educated in Hawaii, who feared arousing traditional northern suspicions of southern radical movements. He wanted both to unite the Han and to mobilize them and all other non-Manchu groups in China including Mongols, Tibetans, and Muslims into a modern multiethnic nationalist movement against the Manchu Qing state and foreign imperialists.
The Han were seen as a unified group distinct from the "internal" foreigners-- within their borders the Manchus, Tibetans, Mongols, and Hui--as well as the "external" foreigners-- on their frontiers, namely the Western and Japanese imperialists. Dikotter has argued a racial basis for this notion of a unified Han minzu , but I suspect the rationality was more strategic and nationalistic -- the need to build national security around the concept of one national people, with a small percentage of minorities supporting that idea.
The Communists expanded the number of "peoples" from five to 56 but kept the idea of a unified Han group. The Communists were, in fact, disposed to accommodate these internal minority groups for several reasons. The Communists' Long March, a 6,mile trek across China from southwest to northwest to escape the threat of annihilation by Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang KMT forces, took the Communists through some of the most heavily populated minority areas.
Harried on one side by the KMT and on the other by fierce "barbarian" tribesmen, the Communists were faced with a choice between extermination and promising special treatment to minorities--especially the Miao, Yi Lolo , Tibetans, Mongols, and Hui--should the party ever win national power. The Communists even offered the possibility of true independence for minorities. Chairman Mao frequently referred to Article 14 of the Chinese Communist Party CCP constitution, which "recognizes the right of self- determination" of the national minorities in China, their right to complete separation from China, and to the formation of an independent state for each minority.
This commitment was not kept after the founding of the People's Republic Gladney Instead, the party stressed maintaining the unity of the new nation at all costs. The recognition of minorities, however, also helped the Communists' long-term goal of forging a united Chinese nation by solidifying the recognition of the Han as a unified "majority. The Communists incorporated the idea of Han unity into a Marxist ideology of progress with the Han in the forefront of development and civilization, the vanguard of the people's revolution Gladney a: The more "backward" or "primitive" the minorities were, the more "advanced" and "civilized" the so-called Han seemed and the greater the need for a unified national identity.
Cultural diversity within the Han has not been admitted because of a deep and well-founded fear of the country breaking up into feuding warlord-run kingdoms as happened in the s and s. Indeed, China as it currently exists, including large pieces of territory occupied by Mongols, Turkic peoples, Tibetans, etc. Ironically, geographic "China" as defined by the People's Republic was actually established by foreign conquest dynasties, first by the Mongols and finally by the Manchus.
A strong, centralizing Chinese government whether of foreign or internal origin has often tried to impose ritualistic, linguistic, and political uniformity throughout its borders. The modern state has tried to unite its various peoples with transportation and communications networks and an extensive civil service. In recent years these efforts have continued through the controlled infusion of capitalistic investment and market manipulation. Yet even in the modern era, these integrative mechanisms have not produced cultural uniformity.
Although presented as a unified culture--an idea also accepted by many Western researchers--Han peoples differ in many ways, most obviously in their languages. Even these subgroups show marked linguistic and cultural diversity; in the Yue language family, for example, Cantonese speakers are barely intelligible to Taishan speakers, and the Southern Min dialects of Quanzhou, Changzhou, and Xiamen are equally difficult to communicate across Norman Chinese linguist Y.
Chao has shown that the mutual unintelligibility of, say, Cantonese and Mandarin is as great as that of Dutch and English or French and Italian Chao Mandarin was imposed as the national language early in the 20th century and has become the lingua franca, but like Swahili in Africa it must often be learned in school and is rarely used in everyday life in many areas. Cultural perceptions among the Han often involve broad stereotypical contrasts between north and south Blake Northerners tend to be thought of as larger, broader-faced, and lighter- skinned, while southerners are depicted as smaller and darker.
Cultural practices involving birth, marriage, and burial differ widely; Fujianese, for example, are known for vibrant folk religious practices and ritualized re-burial of interned corpses, while Cantonese have a strong lineage tradition, both of which are far almost non-existent in the north. One finds radically different eating habits from north to south, with northerners consuming noodles from wheat and other grains, open to consuming lamb and beef, and preferring spicy foods, while the southern diet is based upon rice, eschews such meats in favor of seafood, and along the coast is milder.
It is interesting in this regard, that Fei Xiaotong 12 once argued that what made the Han people different from minorities was their agricultural traditions ie. Yet Fei never considered the vast cultural differences separating rice-eaters in the South from wheat-eaters in the North. This process of national unification based on an invented majority at the expense of a few isolated minorities is one widely documented in Asia and not unique to China see Gladney China's policy toward minorities involves official recognition, limited autonomy, and unofficial efforts at control.
The official minorities hold an importance for China's long-term development that is disproportionate to their population. Although totaling only 8. While the census recorded 91 million minorities, the census is estimated to report an increase of the minority population to be million Zhang Tianlu Shortly after taking power, Communist leaders sent teams of researchers, social scientists, and party cadres to the border regions to "identify" groups as official nationalities. Only 41 of the more than groups that applied were recognized, and that number had reached only 56 by Most of the nearly other groups were identified as Han or lumped together with other minorities with whom they shared some features for generally political reasons.
Some are still applying for recognition, and the census listed almost , people as still "unidentified" and awaiting recognition--meaning they were regarded as ethnically different but did not fit into any of the recognized categories. In recognition of the minorities' official status as well as their strategic importance, various levels of nominally autonomous administration were created --five regions, 31 prefectures, 96 counties or, in Inner Mongolia and Manchuria, banners , and countless villages. Such "autonomous" areas do not have true political control although they may have increased local control over the administration of resources, taxes, birth planning, education, legal jurisdiction, and religious expression.
These areas have minority government leaders, but the real source of power is still the Han-dominated Communist Party--and as a result, they may actually come under closer scrutiny than other provinces with large minority populations such as Gansu, Qinghai, and Sichuan.
References - Immigrants Working with Co-ethnics: Who Are They and How Do They Fare Economically?
While autonomy seems not to be all the word might imply, it is still apparently a desirable attainment for minorities in China. Between the and censuses, 18 new autonomous counties were established, three of them in Liaoning Province for the Manchus, who previously had no autonomous administrative districts. Although the government is clearly trying to limit the recognition of new nationalities, there seems to be an avalanche of new autonomous administrative districts. Besides the 18 new counties and many villages whose total numbers have never been published, at least eight more new autonomous counties are to be set up.
Five will go to the Tujia, a group widely dispersed throughout the southwest that doubled in population from 2. The increase in the number of groups seeking minority status reflects what may be described as an explosion of ethnicity in contemporary China.
Indeed, it has now become popular, especially in Beijing, for people to "come out" as Manchus or other ethnic groups, admitting they were not Han all along. While the Han population grew a total of 10 percent between and , the minority population grew 35 percent overall--from 67 million to 91 million. More recently PRC policy has attempted to maintain the support of recently emigrated Chinese, who consist largely of Chinese students seeking undergraduate and graduate education in the West.
Global and Local Perspectives
Many of the Chinese diaspora are now investing in People's Republic of China providing financial resources, social and cultural networks, contacts and opportunities. The Chinese government estimates that of the 1.
- Disaster Resilient Cities. Concepts and Practical Examples;
- Western Esotericism: A Concise History (SUNY Series in Western Esoteric Traditions).
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- Chinese Ethnic Business: Global and Local Perspectives;
- Brideshead Revisited?
The usage of Chinese by the overseas Chinese has been determined by a large number of factors, including their ancestry, their migrant ancestors' "regime of origin" , assimilation through generational changes, and official policies of their country of residence. The general trend is that more established Chinese populations in the Western world and in many regions of Asia have Cantonese as either the dominant variety or as a common community vernacular, while Mandarin is much more prevalent among new arrivals, making it increasingly common in many Chinatowns.
There are over 50 million overseas Chinese.
THE SOVIET UNION AS CHINA'S PROLOGUE?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Chinese emigration. A Chinese Vietnamese merchant in Hanoi , c.