Worrying About Ethnicity: Towards a New Generation of China Dreams? by Dr David Tobin, University of Glasgow, 13 November 2014

Dr David Tobin, University of Glasgow

"Worrying About Ethnicity: Towards a New Generation of China Dreams?"

Thursday 13th November 2014. ‌The violent events of Lhasa 2008 and Urumchi 2009 which left nearly 200 dead in Xinjiang lead then Guangdong Party Committee Secretary and now 3rd ranked Vice Premier, Wang Yang, to suggest that China that needs to re-adjust its ethnic minority policies or there will be further “difficulties”. International Relations debates within China are now increasingly concerned with how to avoid domestic insecurity in Xinjiang and Tibet derailing China’s rise to global superpower status. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) explains that ethnic unity(minzu tuanjie) is a “zero-sum political struggle of life or death” for the Chinese nation. Unusually frank debates amongst scholars at Beijing’s elite universities are for the first time being publicised on the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC) website as an “exploration of a Second generation of ethnicpolicies”. The inter-generationalpolicy debate is ostensibly between proponents of the First generation of ethnic minority policies who wish to maintain China as a multi-ethnic state of 56 different minzu groups and the Second generation who seek to transform China into a mono-ethnic race-state (guozu). This paper will analyse the Second generation of minzu policies debate not as an institutional or geopolitical struggle but as an ideational struggle to articulate the future and the identity of the Chinese nation. It will explore how the two generations conceptualise the dangers of majority ethnic chauvinism and minority ethnic nationalism in constructing the dreams and nightmares of China’s futures.

First published: 13 November 2014

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