Affirmative action in China

In the People's Republic of China, the government had instated affirmative action policies for ethnic minorities called Youhui zhengce (simplified Chinese: 优惠政策; traditional Chinese: 優惠政策; pinyin: Yōuhuì zhèngcè; literally: "preferential policy") or Shaoshu minzu jiafen (simplified Chinese: 少数民族加分; traditional Chinese: 少數民族加分; pinyin: Shǎoshù mínzú jiāfēn; literally: "add point for minority ethnic groups" in College Entrance Examination) when it began in 1949 and still had impact until today.[1] The policies giving preferential treatment to ethnic minorities in China. For example, Minority ethnic groups in China are not subjected to its well-publicized One-child policy.[2][3] Three principles are the basis for the policy: equality for national minorities, territorial autonomy, and equality for all languages and cultures.[1]

Affirmative action of ethnic minorities in China
Traditional Chinese優惠政策
Literal meaningpreferential policy
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinYōuhuì zhèngcè

Affirmative action policies

No taxes in minority regions are required to be sent to the central government; all of it can be spent locally.[4] Minorities receive proportional representation in local government.[4] Higher-level jurisdictions ask lower-level minority areas to put forth "extensive efforts to support the country's construction by providing more natural resources" and in exchange gives them infrastructural subsidies such as personnel training, budgetary subventions, and disproportionate public works investments.[1][5] The Chinese government encourages business to hire minorities and offers no-interest loans to businesses operated by minorities.[1][4] Prominent government posts may be filled with "model" citizens who are also minorities.[6]

Minority students applying to universities receive bonus points on the National Higher Education Entrance Examination (gaokao).[1][6][7] In 2009 authorities in Chongqing uncovered 31 high school students pretending to be members of a minority group in order to gain test points, and in 2011 Inner Mongolia authorities uncovered about 800 students pretending to be members of a minority group.[7] There is a system of universities exclusively for minority students.[4] The government established bilingual programs to help minorities learn Mandarin Chinese. Scholars are creating alphabets for minority languages that had not been previously written as a way of preserving those languages.[4]

The Chinese government officially allows minority parents to have more than one child per family instead of the one demanded for Han people as part of the One Child Policy.[6] Rena Singer of Knight-Ridder Newspapers wrote that "In practice, many minority families simply have as many children as they want."[4][2]

Singer wrote that the policies are meant to encourage assimilation instead of empowering minority blocs and "The idea is to give the minorities just enough power, education or economic success to keep them quiet."[4] An article by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times describes the opposite effect: families that might have preferred to assimilate by identifying as Han instead maintain their minority identity, for the increased policy benefit and social opportunities.[6]

Historical precedents

Fuk'anggan, a Manchu military leader, recommended for an increase in the quota for Hui people in the civil and military suishi examinations during a 1785 memorial from the governor of Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. Li Zonghan (C: 李宗瀚, P: Lǐ Zōnghàn, W: Li Tsung-han), the Hunan provincial education commissioner, requested a quota for Miao people candidates for provincial examinations during an 1807 memorial. This is so the Han Chinese people, who had better preparation to take the examinations, would not crowd out Miao. Li Zonghan argued that local officials would need to have suspicion of Han pretending to be Miao in order to fit the quota criteria.[8] Taiwanese Plains Aborigines also had a quota under the Qing.

Influence on Chinese society

The affirmative action of Chinese government has been called into question, especially from the ethnic group of Han Chinese in today. Unfair policies on Chinese College entrance examination and human rights are pointed out to be partial to national minority and believed to have caused reverse discrimination in mainland. Han chauvinism has become more and more popular in mainland China since 2000s which is acknowledged to be caused by the anger on Chinese affirmative action.[9][10][11][12]


  • Elman, Benjamin A. A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China. University of California Press, 2000. ISBN 052092147X, 9780520921474.
  • Sautman, Barry. "Affirmative Action, Ethnic Minorities and China's Universities." (Archive) Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal. Pacific Rim Law & Policy Association, January 1998. Volume 7, No. 1. p. 77-116. - Info page.


  1. ^ a b c d e Hill, Ann Maxwell and Minglang Zhou. "Introduction." In: Zhou, Minglang and Ann Maxwell Hill (editors). Affirmative Action in China and the U.S.: A Dialogue on Inequality and Minority Education. Palgrave Macmillan, October 13, 2009. ISBN 0230100929, 9780230100923. Pages 8-14.
  2. ^ a b Park, Chai Bin (1990). A Minority Group and China's One-Child Policy: The Case of the Koreans. JSTOR 1966715.
  3. ^ Sautman, p. 77.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Singer, Rena. "China's Minorities Get Huge Affirmative-Action Benefits." (Archive) Knight-Ridder Newspapers at The Seattle Times. Tuesday August 26, 1997. Retrieved on January 4, 2014.
  5. ^ Sautman, p. 78.
  6. ^ a b c d The World; Affirmative Action, Chinese Style, Makes Some Progress, Nicholas D. Kristof, March 31, 1991
  7. ^ a b Wen, Ya. "Weight of privilege." Global Times. December 19, 2012. Retrieved on January 4, 2014.
  8. ^ Benjamin A. Elman (22 March 2000). A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China. University of California Press. pp. 169–. ISBN 978-0-520-92147-4.
  9. ^ 《凭栏观史》第34期:中国到底有没有大汉族主义
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

Further reading

Ethnic minorities in China

Ethnic minorities in China are the non-Han Chinese population in the People's Republic of China (PRC). China officially recognises 55 ethnic minority groups within China in addition to the Han majority. As of 2010, the combined population of officially recognised minority groups comprised 8.49% of the population of mainland China. In addition to these officially recognised ethnic minority groups, there are Chinese nationals who privately classify themselves as members of unrecognised ethnic groups (such as Jewish, Tuvan, Oirat, Ili Turki, and Japanese).

The ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the PRC reside within mainland China and Taiwan, whose minorities are called the Taiwanese aborigines. The Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan officially recognises 14 Taiwanese aborigine groups, while the PRC classifies them all under a single ethnic minority group, the Gaoshan. Hong Kong and Macau do not use this ethnic classification system, and figures by the PRC government do not include the two territories.

By definition, these ethnic minority groups, together with the Han majority, make up the greater Chinese nationality known as Zhonghua Minzu. Chinese minorities alone are referred to as "Shaoshu Minzu".

Forced assimilation

Forced assimilation is a process of cultural assimilation of religious or ethnic minority groups that is forced into an established and generally larger community. Also enforcement of a new language in legislation, education, literature, worshiping counts as forced assimilation. Unlike ethnic cleansing, the local population is not forced to leave a certain area. Instead the population becomes assimilated by force. It has often been used after an area has changed nationality, often in the aftermath of war. Some examples are both the German and French forced assimilation in the provinces Alsace and (at least a part of) Lorraine, and some decades after the Swedish conquests of the Danish provinces Scania, Blekinge and Halland the local population was submitted to forced assimilation.

History of Xinjiang

The recorded history of the area now known as Xinjiang dates to the 2nd millennium BC. There have been many empires, primarily Han Chinese, Turkic, and Mongol, that have ruled over the region, including the Yuezhi, Xiongnu, Han dynasty, Gaochang, Kingdom of Khotan, Sixteen Kingdoms of the Jin dynasty (Former Liang, Former Qin, Later Liang, and Western Liang), Turkic Khaganate, Tang dynasty, Tibetan Empire, Uyghur Khaganate, Kara-Khanid Khanate, Kingdom of Qocho, Qara Khitai, Mongol Empire, Yuan dynasty, Chagatai Khanate, Yarkent Khanate, Dzungar Khanate, and Qing dynasty. Xinjiang was previously known as "Xiyu" (Chinese: 西域), under the Han dynasty, which drove the Xiongnu empire out of the region in 60 BCE in an effort to secure the profitable Silk Road, but was renamed Xinjiang (新疆, meaning "new frontier") when the region was reconquered by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in 1759. Xinjiang is now a part of the People's Republic of China, having been so since its founding year of 1949.

Inner Mongolian independence movement

The Inner Mongolian independence movement, also known as the Southern Mongolian independence movement, is a movement for the independence of Inner Mongolia (also known as "Southern Mongolia") and the political separation of Inner Mongolia from the People's Republic of China. It is principally led by the Mongolian diaspora in countries like Japan and the United States, and in some European countries.

The movement is led primarily by three popular organizations: the Inner Mongolian People's Party, led by Temtsiltu Shobtsood (Xi Haiming); the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, led by Hada; and the Mongolian Liberal Union Party, led by Olhunud Daichin. The stated goals of all three organizations are the secession of Inner Mongolia from the People's Republic of China, and either the establishment of an independent Inner Mongolian state or the unification of Inner Mongolia with "Northern Mongolia" (a.k.a. the Mongolian state).

List of endangered languages in China

An endangered language is a language that it is at risk of falling out of use, generally because it has few surviving speakers. If it loses all of its native speakers, it becomes an extinct language. UNESCO defines four levels of language endangerment between "safe" (not endangered) and "extinct":


Definitely endangered

Severely endangered

Critically endangered

List of ethnic groups in China

Multiple ethnic groups populate China, where "China" is taken to mean areas controlled by either of the two states using "China" in their formal names, the People's Republic of China (China) and Republic of China (Taiwan).

The typical use of the English phrase Chinese people generally refers to the Han 漢 people, also known as Han Chinese; they are the largest ethnic group in mainland China, where (as of 2010) some 91.51% of the population was classified as Han (~1.2 billion). Han is the name the Chinese have used for themselves since the Han Dynasty BC 202, whereas the name "Chinese" (used in the West) is of uncertain origin, but possibly derives ultimately from Sanskrit Cina-s "the Chinese," which in turn perhaps comes from the Qin dynasty which preceded the Han dynasty. Besides the Han-Chinese majority of 92%, 55 other ethnic (minority) groups are categorized in present China, numbering approximately 105 million people (8%), mostly concentrated in the bordering northwest, north, northeast, south, and southwest but with some in central interior areas.

The major minority ethnic groups in China are Zhuang (16.9 million), Hui (10.5 million), Manchu (10.3 million), Uyghur (10 million), Miao (9.4 million), Yi (8.7 million), Tujia (8.3 million), Tibetan (6.2 million), Mongol (5.9 million), Dong (2.8 million), Buyei (2.8 million), Yao (2.7 million), Bai (1.9 million), Korean (1.8 million), Hani (1.6 million), Li (1.4 million), Kazakh (1.4 million), and Dai (1.2 million).

Migration to Xinjiang

Migration to Xinjiang is both an ongoing and historical movement of people, often sponsored by various states who controlled the region, including the Han dynasty, Qing dynasty, Republic of China, and People's Republic of China.

Tibetan independence movement

The Tibetan independence movement is a movement for the independence of Tibet and the political separation of Tibet from China. It is principally led by the Tibetan diaspora in countries like India and the United States, and by celebrities and Tibetan Buddhists in the United States, India and Europe. The movement is not supported by the 14th Dalai Lama, who although having advocated it from 1961 to the late 1970s, proposed a sort of high-level autonomy in a speech in Strasbourg in 1988, and has since then restricted his position to either autonomy for the Tibetan people in the Tibet Autonomous Region within China, or extending the area of the autonomy to include parts of neighboring Chinese provinces inhabited by Tibetans.Among other reasons for independence, campaigners assert that Tibet has been historically independent. However, some dispute this claim by using different definitions of "Tibet", "historical" and "independence". The campaigners also argue that Tibetans are currently mistreated and denied certain human rights, although the Chinese government disputes this and claims progress in human rights. Various organizations with overlapping campaigns for independence and human rights have sought to pressure various governments to support Tibetan independence or to take punitive action against China for opposing it.

Uyghur nationalism

Uyghur nationalism, or the East Turkestan independence movement, is the notion that the Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group who primarily inhabit China's Xinjiang region (or "East Turkestan"), should form an independent state. Unlike the Han Chinese population, dominant throughout most of China, Uyghurs speak the Uyghur language and are generally Muslim.

The history of the region has become highly politicized, with both Chinese and nationalist Uyghur historians frequently overstating the extent of their groups' respective ties to the region. In reality, it has been home to many groups throughout history, with the Uyghurs arriving from Central Asia in the 10th century. By the 20th century they made up the vast majority of the population. In 1933 and 1944 attempts were made to declare an independent republic, but the first of these collapsed and the second was absorbed into People's Republic of China in 1949. Pro-independence groups maintain that this constitutes an illegal occupation.Since then, a state-orchestrated mass migration from the 1950s to the 1970s has brought millions of Han Chinese into Xinjiang. Many Uyghurs reportedly feel that they are slowly being eradicated as an ethnic and cultural group, and Human Rights Watch describes a "multi-tiered system of surveillance, control, and suppression of religious activity" perpetrated by state authorities. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 2,000,000 Uyghurs are currently held in political and assimilatory re-education camps. China justifies such measures as a response to the terrorist threat posed by extremist separatist groups.These factors have led to ongoing conflict with police and Han Chinese, including both frequent terrorist attacks and wider public unrest (such as the July 2009 Ürümqi riots).There is no single Uyghur agenda, and organisations which support the formation of an independent Uyghur state or greater autonomy include both non-violent groups such as the World Uyghur Congress, led by Rabiya Kadeer, who lives in exile, and active terrorist organisations such as the Turkistan Islamic Party (often referred to as the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" or ETIM) which often see the Uyghur struggle as part of a larger global jihad. Some groups, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Organization, are labelled as terrorists by China but not others.


Xinjiang (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ; SASM/GNC: Xinjang; Chinese: 新疆; pinyin: Xīnjiāng; formerly romanised as Sinkiang), officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), is a provincial-level autonomous region of China in the northwest of the country. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and the eighth largest country subdivision in the world, spanning over 1.6 million km2 (640,000 square miles). Xinjiang contains the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which is administered by China and claimed by India. Xinjiang borders the countries of Mongolia (Bayan-Ölgii, Khovd and Govi-Altai Provinces), Russia (Altai Republic), Kazakhstan (East Kazakhstan and Almaty Provinces), Kyrgyzstan (Issyk Kul, Naryn and Osh Regions), Tajikistan (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region), Afghanistan (Badakhshan Province), Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan), and India (Jammu and Kashmir). The rugged Karakoram, Kunlun, and Tian Shan mountain ranges occupy much of Xinjiang's borders, as well as its western and southern regions. Xinjiang also borders Tibet Autonomous Region and the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai. The most well-known route of the historical Silk Road ran through the territory from the east to its northwestern border. In recent decades, abundant oil and mineral reserves have been found in Xinjiang, and it is currently China's largest natural gas-producing region.

It is home to a number of ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Han, Kazakhs, Tibetans, Hui, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Mongols and Russians. More than a dozen autonomous prefectures and counties for minorities are in Xinjiang. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan. Xinjiang is divided into the Dzungarian Basin in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south by a mountain range. Only about 9.7% of Xinjiang's land area is fit for human habitation.With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, a succession of people and empires have vied for control over all or parts of this territory. The territory came under the rule of the Qing dynasty in the 18th century, which was later replaced by the Republic of China government. Since 1949, it has been part of the People's Republic of China following the Chinese Civil War. In 1954, Xinjiang Bingtuan was set up to strengthen the border defense against the Soviet Union, and also promote the local economy. In 1955, Xinjiang was turned into an autonomous region from a province. In the last decades, the separatist conflict and the influence of radical Islam have both resulted in unrest in the region, with occasional terrorist attacks and clashes between separatist and government forces.

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