Ethnic Minorities and National Integration
This chapter differentiates pluralist from assimilationist theories of integration, tracing the CCP’s efforts to base policy on one, then the other, with unsatisfactory results on both. Pluralism, which allows minorities to keep their languages, cultures, and dress, has been found to work against the emergence of a more homogenous, and therefore putatively more loyal, population. Assimilationist policies, however, have deepened many minorities’ sense of resentment, sometimes taking the form of rebellion or, more lately in Tibet, self-immolation as a form of protest. Current policy is best described as pluralist in form but assimilationist in practice. Suggestions that the system of special privileges for minorities be abolished have thus far made little headway. Ethnic minorities who were restive under imperial China remain the most dissatisfied today, but, in the absence of the unlikely unraveling of the PRC state, are unlikely to achieve either true autonomy or actual independence.