Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers

Edited by Morris Rossabi

  • Published: 2004
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Politics
  • Bibliographic information: 304 pp., 10 halftones, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Studies on Ethnic Groups in China
  • Contents

Upon coming to power in 1949, the Chinese Communist government proclaimed that its stance toward ethnic minorities - who comprise approximately
eight percent of China's population - differed from that of previous regimes and that it would help preserve the linguistic and cultural heritage of the fifty-five official "minority nationalities." However, minority culture suffered widespread destruction in the early decades of the People's Republic of China, and minority areas still lag far behind Han (majority) areas economically.

Since the mid-1990s, both domestic and foreign developments have refocused government attention on the inhabitants of China's minority regions, their relationship to the Chinese state, and their foreign ties. Intense economic development of and Han settlement in China's remote minority regions threaten to displace indigenous populations, post-Soviet establishment of independent countries composed mainly of Muslim and Turkic-speaking peoples presents questions for related groups in China, freedom of Mongolia from Soviet control raises the specter of a pan-Mongolian movement encompassing Chinese Mongols, and international groups press for a more autonomous or even independent Tibet.

In Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers, leading scholars examine the Chinese government's administration of its ethnic minority regions, particularly border areas where ethnicity is at times a volatile issue and where separatist movements are feared. Seven essays focus on the Muslim Hui, multiethnic southwest China, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet. Together these studies provide an overview of government relations with key minority populations, against which one can view evolving dialogues and disputes.
Morris Rossabi is professor of history at the City University of New York and visiting professor of East and Inner Asian History, Columbia University. Among his many publications are Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times and Voyager from Xanadu: Rabban Sauma and the First Journey from China to the West. The contributors are Gardner Bovingdon, David Bachman, Uradyn E. Bulag, Melvyn C. Goldstein, Mette Halskov Hansen, Matthew T. Kapstein, and Jonathan Lipman.
Introduction / Morris Rossabi

1. White Hats, Oil Cakes, and Common Blood: The Hui in the Contemporary Chinese State / Jonathan N. Lipman
2. The Challenge of Sipsong Panna in the Southwest: Development, Resources, and Power in a Multiethnic China / Mette Halskov Hansen
3. Inner Mongolia: The Dialectics of Colonization and Ethnicity Building / Uradyn E. Bulag
4. Heteronomy and Its Discontents: "Minzu Regional Autonomy" in Xinjiang / Gardner Bovingdon
5. Making Xinjiang Safe for the Han? Contradictions and Ironies of Chinese Governance in China's Northwest / David Bachman
6. Tibet and China in the Twentieth Century / Melvyn C. Goldstein
7. A Thorn in the Dragon's Side: Tibetan Buddhist Culture in China / Matthew T. Kapstein


"Rossabi's introductory section provides a wonderful setup to understand the historical realities of ethnic minorities post-1949. . . . This book will be beneficial to an introductory reader looking to understand the general discussions that litter the field of ethnicity and ethnic relations in People's Republic of China."
-Progress in Development Studies

"Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers constitutes an important milestone in the study of the Chinese government's administration of its minority regions over the past 50 years. [The book] is bound to become the reference in general ethnic groups' studies in the People's Republic of China."
-China Quarterly

"A relevant, timely, and significant addition to the scholarly literature on governance. Well-researched, nicely presented, and thought-provoking, Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers is a stimulating read."
-The International History Review

"This book provides a well-written and informative overview of the relations between state and ethnic minorities in China. [It] is a timely and welcome edition which illuminates the complex conditions in China's western regions. In addition to academic readership, this book should also interest a larger audience with an interest in China's ethnic minorities and border regions."
-China Information

"This book provides a concrete tool for those seeking to study China's policy in its multiethnic frontiers and, therefore, is a must for not only academics but policy planners as well."
-Journal of Asian History

"This book is jam-packed with interesting observations about the political, social and economic issues confronting China's ethnically diverse border regions. It will make a useful addition to reading lists for undergraduate courses on China's ethnic minorities."
-The China Journal