Thursday, July 9, 2009

Neo-colonialism with Chinese characteristics

The NYT has an essay by an anthropologist who discusses the colonialist mindset of China's rulers (and, sadly, many Han Chinese) toward the Tibetans and Uighurs.  In describing how they see these minority groups, he says: 

For them, all minorities are fully — and only — Chinese citizens, and therefore must be loyal to the government and grateful for its largesse. There will never be much gratitude unless China’s leaders grant these groups real regional autonomy, guarantee freedom of religion, curb Han Chinese migration and stop their insulting rhetoric about underdeveloped minorities in need of help. But they won’t. So the unrest and discontent — at times exploding into the violence of the past few days — are bound to continue.
He also does a good job of explaining the difference between ethnic "nationalities" such as Tibetans and Uighurs, vice the 50+ other minority groups in China - i.e. Hui, Zhang, etc. - a distinction that is frequently obscured by both Chinese leaders and others in making comparisons to ethnic politics in other countries, as well as comparisons among ethnic groups within China.  

I am looking at a copy of Ross Terrill's "The New Chinese Empire", which has been waiting for me to read it for some time.  I think I'll start today...

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