Chinese Policy on Minorities
General These fifty-six are extremely diverse. Some of the minorities, including the Hui and the Zhuang, are very similar to the Han; others are very different, for instance, the Turkic peoples of the west such as the Uygurs or Kazakhs, or the Iranian Tajiks. The Minority nationalities occupy about 60 per cent of China's territory, including, above all, the vast western areas.
Policy Chinese policy officially opposes forced assimilation and allows autonomy to the minority nationalities, so that they can retain their own characteristics. Under this policy, the government has set up numerous autonomous areas throughout China. The policy's real effect, however, can best be described as integration.
Policy on Secession Both policy and reality are fiercely opposed to outright secession, which the government has suppressed brutally on several occasions. Such occasions occurred in the years of 1959, 1987, and 1989. Most of the minorities have succeeded in integrating reasonably well with the Han, but independence or secessionist and wishes have remained strong among a few, particularly the Tibetans. Ethnic dissent among some nationalities could easily develop as an issue in the coming years.
Census Situation In the 1953 census 41 minority nationalities were specified. In the 1964 census, there were 183 nationalities registered, among which the government recognized only 54. Of the remaining 129 nationalities, 74 were considered to be part of the officially recognized 54, 23 were classified as "other nationalities" and the remaining 32 were classified as "indeterminate." The numbers of population has some suspect due to the re-registration of significant numbers of Han people as members of minority nationalities, an action which brought with it personal benefits. Also some did so as it relates to the substantial (though not total) exemption of members of minority nationalities from the family planning policy of "one family one child".Back to Chinese Nationality Choices Back to Home Page
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