New on the site this month, Beida sociologist Ma Rong on “The Historical Evolution of China’s System of Autonomous Ethnic Regions.” We chose this text because of current interest in ethnic tensions and government policies in China, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibet. Unsurprisingly, Ma does not address the questions that are of primary concern to us, but it is often useful nonetheless to be reminded of the framework within which Chinese establishment intellectuals address hot-button Chinese issues. Like Hu Lianhe and Hu An’gang, Ma argues that it is high time to accelerate the integration of China’s ethnic minorities into the larger “Chinese ethnicity,” which will hasten the move away from the old system of autonomous ethnic regions inherited from the defunct Soviet Union. Ma’s text is a bit plodding and sloganistic, and he makes no mention of what system China’s ethnic groups might prefer, but it is nonetheless interesting to watch him grapple with the issues.
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