Tuesday, April 08, 2008

‘China’s Political Fragility’ and ethnic minority problems

I went to Prof. Susan Shirk’s lecture today, titled as “The Foreign Policy Implications of china’s Political Fragility.” You will be able to find her interview on her recent book (China: Fragile Superpower) here and her lecture clip here. Her lecture was very good in general: she mentioned various sources of instability and the Chinese political leader’s concern for them.

However, I was surprised that she did not even mention about ethnic minority problems in China. It is very recent phenomenon, but the Tibetan case clearly demonstrates the backfiring of Chinese policy toward ethnic minority and ‘historical revisionism’. I guess she didn't understand how imfortant and sensitive the enthnicity and history issues are in the Asian culture.

I think that as much as China trying to infuse nationalism and seeking integration by historical revisionist projects such as the South West project for Tibetans, it will inevitably create resentment from minorities and even create 'resistance nationalisms' from minorities' sides. (I mentioned about the relations between the South East project and Tibet demonstrations in my previous posting on Tibet's demonstration)
At the same time, historical revisionism and nationalism will inevitably raise some ontological questions within China: What is China? Who is Chinese? The Han Chinese? The communist Chinese? Or anybody who is in current Chinese national borders? Those will be very difficult to answer and make the Chinese government's attempt as self-contradictory.
The worst case for the Chinese government is when the economic polarization problem is worsened and combined with the ethnic minority problem. It will be the most explosive situation in China.

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