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dc.contributor.convenorDominique Ariel
dc.contributor.authorMackerras, Colin
dc.description.abstractThe Chinese state recognizes fifty-five "minority nationalities" (shaoshu minzu) or ethnic minorities. The paper will introduce the main groups and give some minor historical background, summarizing how China came to be the current multinational unitary state. The Chinese term minzu is usually translated "nationality". This has different possible meanings. One is the collectivity of ethnic groups that make up a nation-state, specifically the one called the People's Republic of China. The other is the individual ethnic groups, or minority nationalities within the larger nation-state. This paper will analyze how these meanings interrelate and the complexities of how the concept of "nation" operates within the Chinese state. There has been a revival of ethnic identity in China since the reform period began in 1978. The paper gives specific examples, illustrating identity's significance within the Chinese nation and the kinds of dilemmas posed to the Chinese state. It will raise the question of how far the revival of ethnic identity raises the spectre of separatism among any of the ethnic groups and consequently poses a threat to Chinese national unity. Most of the ethnic groups appear happy to belong to the Chinese nation-state. This is especially the case since China's recent growth has brought them significant prosperity and incentive to participate in China's economic miracle. In most cases, conflict among ethnic groups is no more significant than that within them, and in particular within the most populous ethnic group, the Han. There are, however, examples of ethnic minorities that have seen separatist movements. The best known in the West is the Tibetans, since there is a strong and influential movement in support of Tibetan independence (or at least a very high degree of autonomy) and culture that centres around the person of the Dalai Lama. There were strong clergy-led independence movements in the late 1980s, all suppressed by the Chinese authorities. Since 1990, there have also been strong movements against the Chinese state in Xinjiang, especially the one led by the Turkic Muslim ethnic group called the Uygurs, which gained greatly in importance with the fall of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. The September 11 Incidents of 2001 caused China, and also to a large extent the United States, to associate Uygur separatist movements against China with George W. Bush's war on terror. Although Uygur-led terrorist incidents against the Chinese state have been documented, they have not been particularly numerous in the twenty-first century. In the West, there is currently no leader comparable to Tibet's Dalai Lama, as a result of which the Uygur cause receives much less publicity or support than does the Tibetan. The paper's central argument is that, although the notion of a multinational unitary state and some cases of ethnically-driven conflict pose difficulties for China and the Chinese leadership, there is no inherent reason why a united China should not survive. Although there are reasons for challenging the current territorial extent of the People's Republic of China, there are also grounds for supporting the idea of a Chinese national unity that includes the ethnic areas.
dc.publisherNo data provided
dc.relation.ispartofconferencename13th Annual World Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN)
dc.relation.ispartofconferencetitleEthnic Minorities in China: Nation, Identity, Conflict and the State
dc.relation.ispartoflocationColumbia University, New York
dc.titleEthnic Minorities in China: Nation, Identity, Conflict and the State
dc.typeConference output
dc.type.descriptionE2 - Conferences (Non Refereed)
dc.type.codeE - Conference Publications
gro.hasfulltextNo Full Text
gro.griffith.authorMackerras, Colin P.

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    Contains papers delivered by Griffith authors at national and international conferences.

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