National policy in the south of China: polyethnic region is practically devoid of separatism

The People’s Republic of China is not only the largest state in the world in terms of population, but also one of the most multinational countries. According to official data only, at least 50 of various nations live here. Among the people of China, there are not only followers of traditional Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, but also Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians, followers of traditional cults, and even Jews. Naturally, in such a multinational country national contradictions between the peoples and ethnic groups residing on its territory, as well as the central government, cannot fail to arise.

It is widely known, in particular, of the separatist sentiment in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where a large Muslim population lives: Turkic-speaking Uighurs, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Iranian speaking Tajik and Pamir ethnic groups, and Chinese-language Muslim - hui (Dungan) . The movement for the independence of Tibet is less radical, but also world-famous. This region was incorporated into the PRC after the invasion of parts of the People’s Liberation Army of China, which defeated the weak forces of the Dalai Lama.


Finally, the separatist tendencies do not shy away from the AWG - Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, located in the north of China, on the border with Mongolia, and, as the name suggests, inhabited not only by the Chinese Han, but also by the representatives of the Mongolian peoples. The Uigur, Tibetan and Mongolian problems are an old “headache” of the PRC. After all, the peoples living in the three autonomous regions have colossal ethnic, linguistic and cultural differences from the Chinese, and most importantly - they have their own rich historyincluding examples of sovereign existence in large and quite powerful states.

However, the most diverse ethnic population is concentrated in southern China. And oddly enough, at the present time there are the least of all problems in terms of interethnic relations, when compared with the national regions of Western China. We will describe the specifics of the ethnic situation in South China in this article, but before turning directly to the main topic of our narrative, we should touch upon the features of the administrative division of modern China.

National autonomy in China

After the victory of the Chinese Communist Party and the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China, the country's administrative-territorial division was modernized in accordance with the requirements of the national policy. It should be noted that the Chinese national policy in many respects repeated the Soviet model. First, in China, the course was taken to develop the cultures of national minorities - just like in the Soviet Union. At the same time, of course, the “right” and “wrong” minorities were singled out. The former were entered into the official list of the peoples of China, and the existence of the latter was ignored, or they were declared subethnic groups of the former. The second key coincidence of national policy is the creation of administrative-territorial formations on a national basis. There are several levels in the PRC. There are autonomous regions. This is the highest level.

The autonomous regions include the territories of compact residence of the most numerous and culturally self-sufficient peoples of China. These are: Xinjiang Uygur, Tibetan, Ningxia Hui, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Regions and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. By status autonomous regions are equal to the provinces of China. In turn, in the structure of both autonomous regions and provinces national autonomous territorial units of a lower level may be present. These are autonomous districts, autonomous counties, and khoshuns. An even lower level of national-territorial autonomy is the national districts of urban subordination, national volosts, national towns and national villages. Thus, the declared concern for the preservation of the cultural diversity of the PRC and the ethnic specifics of the peoples inhabiting the country causes a rather complicated administrative-territorial division of the country.

If we analyze the ethnopolitical situation in the People’s Republic of China, it becomes clear that among its population two large groups of peoples and ethnic groups can be distinguished. The first group is conditionally “non-Chinese” peoples. These include the Turkic-speaking, Iranian-speaking, Mongolian-speaking and Tibetan-speaking peoples and ethnic groups of Western and North-Western China, which relatively late became part of the Chinese state and had previously their own ancient and developed statehood and culture. The second group is the "Chinese" peoples. Among them are numerous Tibeto-Burmese, Thai-speaking, Austro-Asiatic and Austronesian peoples of southern China, and the Tungus-Manchurian peoples of Northeastern China can also be attributed to them. For most of the listed ethnic groups, there is a lack of a developed statehood in the “pre-Chinese” past, a strong influence of Chinese culture and language, a common historical development with “big” China. These factors determine the comparative political loyalty of the second group of ethnic groups. Of course, this is a very conditional and approximate division, but to some extent it reflects the ethnopolitical situation in the country.

We include the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hainan provinces in the territorial region of "South China". With certain reservations to this region can also be attributed to the province of Sichuan and Hunan. It is necessary to make a reservation here that the criteria for this allocation for us, in many respects, are the multinationality of the listed administrative-territorial formations and a certain commonality of historical, political and cultural development. In the south of China live multimillion ethnic minorities, the number of many of which is comparable with the number of average European peoples. So, Chuangs have 17 million people, Miao - more than 9 million people, Tujia and Y - about 9 million people each ethnic group. Naturally, the presence of so many ethnic groups of non-Han origin gives rise to thinking about how to most effectively and painlessly implement national policies, preventing the possible spread of separatist and anti-Han sentiments among the national minorities of the South.

Seventeen million chuangs

Zhuans linguistically belong to the Thai group of the Thai Kadai language family and are related to the titular peoples of Thailand and Laos. The multiplicity of Chuangs was one of the reasons for the creation of the Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region in the extreme south of China. He goes to the Gulf of Tonkin. In the south-east and south it borders with the province of Guangdong, in the north-east with the province of Hunan, in the north with Guizhou, in the west with the province of Yunnan and in the south-west with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The ancestors of the modern Zhuans, who gave the name to the autonomous region, lived here already in the first millennium BC. Chinese expansion into the region began in the III. BC. In 214 BC troops of the Qin Empire invaded the territory of modern Guangxi and incorporated them into the Chinese state. Later, the state of Nanyue (Namweet) was created on the lands of Guangxi, crushed by the Han Empire.

Starting with VII-VIII .e. The processes of settling in Guangxi by Chinese from the northern provinces began to increase. Chinese immigrants are becoming the main pillar of Chinese statehood in the region. However, local tribes, including the Zhuangs, reacted negatively to attempts to establish China’s control over the territories of their traditional residence. Periodically, uprisings of local tribes against Chinese domination occurred, forcing the Chinese authorities to keep large military units in the region. It should be noted that the state administration of the territories inhabited by numerous tribes has always been a major problem for the central Chinese authorities. Practically all dynasties affirmed in power in China, regardless of their origin, faced this problem. Therefore, even in the early Middle Ages, a specific system of indirect management of national regions was formed, implying the use of tribal chiefs as administrative officials — tuses. These leaders handed over their power by inheritance, but at the same time they were listed in the public service. Something similar was subsequently practiced by the English colonialists in a number of their colonial possessions.

In the 12th century, the ethnonym "Zhuang" began to be used for a significant part of the tribes living in Guangxi. By the time the Ming Dynasty began to rule, the overwhelming majority of the population in the territory of Guangxi were still non-Han people, including 50% of the population were Zhuans and 30% were Yao and close ethnic groups. The Han Chinese, that is, the Chinese proper, constituted only 20% of the population. Nevertheless, the chinaization of the province gradually occurred. In the 18th century, the authorities of the Qing Empire abolished the control system that had been in place for several centuries with the help of tribal leaders and transferred the province to the usual control system. However, the Guangxi region remained problematic for the Chinese authorities until the collapse of the Qing Empire and the establishment of a communist regime in China.

Thus, in 1850, a popular uprising led by Hong Xiuquan began in the village of Jintian. Expanded, it gained worldwide fame as the "Rise of the Taiping." By the way, it was Zhuang, Miao and Yao who made up 25-30% of the rebels. Although the Taiping leader Hong Xiuquan of national origin belonged to the "Hakka" (an ethnic group of Chinese in South China), there were quite a few Zhuans among his closest associates. Thus, the Zhuang feudal lord Wei Changhui, who joined the Taiping at the head of a detachment of a thousand Zhuang warriors, received the title "Beyvan" - "King of the North." True, he later spoke out against the Taiping, which was associated with the discontent of the feudal ruler of their social program.


In the twentieth century, the Zhuangs also played an important role in establishing revolutionary power in southern China. This was facilitated by the difficult social and economic situation of the South Chinese national minorities, including the Zhuans. Until the first half of the twentieth century. here reigned the present Middle Ages. There have been numerous cases of sale into slavery of the peasants, the impunity of landlords against the peasant population. In 1914-1922 there was a partisan war in the area of ​​the Yujiang River, which was waged against government troops and local feudal lords by a total of up to 7 thousands of rebels, mainly Zhuang, Han and Yaoic nationalities.

In 1923, a rebellion in the west of Guangxi province was raised by the famous Zhuang revolutionary Wei Batsyun. An armed rebel detachment was formed under his command, where numerous peasants flocked, dissatisfied with their plight. Wei Batsyun was able to capture the city of Dunlan and hold out there until April 1924. In May, 1924 Mr. Wei Batsyun went to Canton, where he established contacts with the Chinese revolutionaries. Returning to his homeland, he continued revolutionary agitation among the Zhuang population and created special courses for peasant youth. At least three hundred people received training there. In the fall of 1926, Mr. Wei Batsyun joined the Chinese Communist Party. Thus, the Dunlan County Revolutionary Committee created by him fell under the complete control of the Communists. This culminated in the coming of the communists to power in the county. The head of the county was a member of the Communist Party, Chen Mianshu, peasant social organizations were formed.

In 1940-1945 Guangxi Province became the scene of the Sino-Japanese War. It was only thanks to the surrender of Japan that it was possible to oust the Japanese from the territory of southern China. In 1949, the territory of Guangxi was finally placed under the control of the Chinese Communist authorities, who declared concern for the interests of the country's national minorities. In 1952, the Guishi-Zhuang Autonomous Region was created as part of Guangxi Province. In 1956, it was transformed into an autonomous region. The Zhuang autonomy included 42 from 69 counties of Guangxi province. And 5 March 1956 was itself the province of Guangxi was renamed the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which received the status of the province.

National policy in the south of China: polyethnic region is practically devoid of separatism


During the years of the cultural revolution in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the confrontation between the Maoist, mostly Chinese by nationality, youth and representatives of the Zhuang intelligentsia intensified. Despite the declared equality of all the peoples of China, in fact the rights of the national minorities of the South, including the Zhuans, have been repeatedly violated. So, since the Zhuans have long used their own variation of Chinese hieroglyphic writing, they were not recognized as a “written people,” unlike the Uigurs, Kazakhs, Tibetans, Mongols, Koreans. This entailed serious problems in the study of Zhuang language in educational institutions. However, the years of Mao Zedong’s reign had positive consequences for Zhuang culture. Thus, the creation of Zhuang writing on the basis of Latin script was completed. In 1980 - 1990 - s. The Chinese government is moving to the practice of expanding the use of national languages ​​in state documentation. Thus, the entire state documentation of the PRC begins to be translated into Zhuang.

Currently, 34% of the region’s population is Zhuang, but the Chinese are an ethnic majority and make up 62% of the population. In addition, the Bui, Vieta, Gelao, Dong, Maonan, Mulao, Miao, Shui and Yao ethnic groups live in the district. The traditional occupation of chuans, in addition to farming, is weaving. The Zhuangs profess Buddhism, Taoism, their own traditional beliefs, were partially influenced by Christian missionaries who preached in Vietnam and South China. Despite the large number and presence of a distinct national identity, the Zhuans do not conflict with the central Chinese authorities, and if there are nationalist sentiments among the Zhuans, they are mainly of an everyday nature and do not translate into such a serious aversion of the central government and Chinese culture as it has place in Xinjiang or Tibet.

People And no longer trade slaves

In neighboring Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region of the southern Chinese province of Yunnan, there are also significant minority ethnic groups. Here, the Han people make up 67% of the population, while the various ethnic groups of Tibeto-Burmese, Thai, Mon-Khmer origin account for about 30% of the population. Including, 11% of the population of the province is made up of the I nationality (they are either Izzu or Lolo). And - one of the largest national minorities in southern China and the PRC as a whole, their total number is over 8 million, of whom about 5 million live in Yunnan Province. Three million representatives of the nationality And live in neighboring Vietnam. In the anthropological relation, And belong to the South Hongoloid race. Although the Chinese perceive And as a single people, in reality it is rather a conglomerate of a number of ethnic groups speaking the nine related languages ​​of the Loloi group of the Lolo-Burmese branch of the Tibeto-Burmese language family. Among the And there are ethnonyms nose, sled, asi, even, lolo, etc. And they use their own letter and have their own traditional beliefs, close to the Tibetan Bon religion, common in Tibet before the establishment of Buddhism and retaining a certain influence in our time.

Despite the fact that in China And, like other peoples of the South, traditionally defined as "barbarians", in fact they have their own state tradition, albeit less developed than the Chinese. Historians have information about the first states that appeared in the lands of the compact settlement of the people And even in the IV-III centuries. BC. Replacing each other, in antiquity and the early Middle Ages there existed the states of Dian (before 109 BC), Damen (from 649 AD, from 728 AD, it was called Nanzhao, from 859 g AD - Dali, from 903 AD - Dachanhe, then from 937 - Dali again). The state of Dali waged long and bloody wars with neighboring countries, primarily with the Tibetan kingdom of Tufan and the Vietnamese Annam. The territory of Annam for some time (from 862 to 866 AD) was captured by the Dali state. Thus, the people of And not only had their own statehood already in the early Middle Ages, but also was a kind of regional power, carrying out attacks on neighboring countries and successfully resisting China’s attempts to conquer the southern territories.

However, in 1253, the state of Dali lost political sovereignty, having been conquered by the emperor of the Mongol dynasty, Yuan Kubilai. After the conquest of the territory of residence of the people And, the Chinese emperors introduced here the management system "tusy", which we described above, in relation to the province of Guangxi. At the same time, the Chinese authorities did not intervene in the internal affairs of national minorities, which contributed to the preservation of archaic relations. If in Yunnan and Yi remained slavery and caste division until the end of the Ming dynasty, then in the most backward mountainous region of Liangshan (now Lianshan-Yi Autonomous Region in Sichuan province) slavery and caste division persisted until the 1950-ies, until the region entered Into structure of the Peoples Republic of China and the communistic authorities have not started the accelerated social modernization.

So, the society of Lanshansky And was divided into four caste groups. The upper floors of the social hierarchy occupied the nose, or “black and”, which numbered somewhere 7% of the total number of AND and owned the land. Below were tsuyno - ordinary free peasants, numbering up to 55%. The next two castes belonged to the lowest. These are ajia - dependent peasants, who had the right to run their own farms (30%) and shasi - slaves who worked in farms of nose, gold and even wealthy ajia (the latter received the right to own slaves). The number of slaves in the Lianshansky mountains reached 8% of the total number of the Lanshans I. people

The inhabitants of Lanshan retained the archaic culture to the greatest extent, and they strongly resisted any attempts to "Sinicize" their region. In fact, the region of residence of Laneshany I was independent of the central Chinese authorities, who simply did not have the strength to establish control over this territory. Here until 1950-s remained slavery. Moreover, periodically And lanshansky And they made predatory raids on Chinese villages, capturing and enslaving Chinese peasants. This prompted the Chinese authorities to spend substantial funds on defense of the counties bordering with Lanshan, to keep military units here.

Meanwhile, from the beginning of the 19th century, Lianshan became the region of opium poppy cultivation. Back in 1940's all the cultivated areas of the Maliy Lianshan district were occupied by opium poppy crops. Drug trafficking allowed the local population to arm well - for half a million Lanshansky And there were several tens of thousands of firearms weapons. With the improvement of the financial situation due to the trade in poppy seeds, the Lanchansky And became more aggressive and carried out attacks on neighboring counties. The purpose of the attacks was, in the first place, the seizure of slaves, since the highest castes of Iy society sought to possess slaves who emphasized the status of the master and carried out the full amount of household and domestic work. To this end, detachments from the Lienshan Mountains were sent to nearby Chinese villages in search of "live goods".

Thus, in 1919, thousands of Chinese peasants from border counties were captured and enslaved to 10. The accumulation of a large number of slaves in Lanshan led to constant uprisings. Thus, in 1935, the rebels overthrew local feudal lords, but were soon defeated by the feudal militia. When Lanshan joined 1949 in the People's Republic of China, cardinal reforms of the social structure of the region began. First of all, in 1952, the Liangshan-Yeisk Autonomous Region was formed. However, the reforms of public life were slow. Thus, slavery in Lanshan was officially abolished only in 1956-1958, which was very late, even by the standards of other backward regions of China. At present, And there are quite peaceful and little reminds of those times when the "mountain barbarians" were a real problem for the authorities of the South Chinese provinces.



Small ethnic groups are integrated into Chinese society

In addition to Zhuans and Yi, a number of other ethnic groups, smaller in number, but also having their own flavor and distinctive, sometimes unique, cultures, live in the territory of southern China. Among these linguistically speaking, there are several groups that speak, respectively, in Tibeto-Burmese, Thai-Kadai and Austro-Asiatic languages.

The Tibeto-Burmese peoples include, in addition to And, also: Tujia (8,5 million.) - live in Guizhou and Hunan provinces, as well as in a number of other provinces, are now practically Chineseized and speak Chinese; Hani (1,6 million people) - residents of Yunnan Province; Lisu (702 thousand.) - Residents of the provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan; lahu (485 thousand.) - Yunnan; Naxi (326 thousand.) - Yunnan and Sichuan; Jingpo (147 thousand). - Yunnan; Achan (39 thousand.) - Yunnan; Puma (42 thousand.) - Yunnan; well (37 thousand.) - Yunnan; Dino (23 thousand.) - Yunnan; Dulun (7 thousand.) - Yunnan.

The second largest group of ethnic minorities in the south of China is the Thai people. These include, in addition to the aforementioned 17 million-strong Zhuans, the following ethnic groups: buoys (2,8 million.) - Guizhou; Dong (2,8 million people) - Guizhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Hunan; Dai (1,2 million people.) - Yunnan; Shui (411 thousand.) - Guizhou; Mulao (216 thousand). - Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou; Maonan (101 thousand.) - Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou. The Kadai peoples represented in the PRC by the ethnos of the gelao (550 thousand people) living in the Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou are close to the Thai people. Another close people - Li (1,2million people) - is aboriginal on the island of Hainan, and by its culture it occupies an intermediate position between the Thai and Indonesian peoples.

The third major group is the Austro-Asian peoples represented in the south of China by the Mon-Khmer and Miao-Yao peoples. The Miao-Yaoi peoples include the Miao proper (9,5 million people) - the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Hubei, Sichuan, Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region; Yao (2,8mln.pers.) - Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Hunan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangdong. Mon-Khmer peoples belong to the VA (430 thousand.) - Yunnan; Bulan (120 thousand.) - Yunnan; Jing, they are Vietnamese (28 thousand people) - Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region; Palaung (20,5 thousand.) - Yunnan.



A significant part of the listed ethnic groups has undergone a strong sinification and is practically integrated (at least, the townspeople) into Chinese society. Naturally, separatist sentiments practically cannot arise among the majority of listed ethnic groups, since, firstly, their rights in the PRC are formally respected - there are national autonomous territorial units, a national culture is developed, written languages ​​are created for many previously unwritten languages, national musical and theater companies, national schools, museums. Secondly, the strong Chinese cultural influence that these peoples have felt for centuries, contributes to the fact that they see themselves as inextricably linked with China and consider themselves to be part of the Chinese people and Chinese history. This is strongly emphasized at the level of official propaganda by the Chinese media, party structures, public organizations.

The main problem facing China’s southern provinces in the area of ​​national politics is not so much opposition to nationalist or separatist tendencies, which are very weak or absent altogether, but the social and economic situation of many ethnic groups, especially the rural population. The standard of living of many ethnic groups remains extremely low, which affects both their common culture and the success of integration into modern society. The doctrine of the Chinese national policy is based on several principles: the integration and consolidation of the peoples living in China; the formation of the all-Chinese civil identity of the population of the country with the displacement of ethnic and territorial identity into secondary positions in comparison with the national identity; strengthening of patriotic attitudes among Han and non-Han population of the country; interdependence of the Han and non-Han population of China. The implementation of these principles is considered as a priority task for the modern Chinese state in the sphere of national relations.

It must be said that this policy is bearing certain fruits in the provinces of southern China, because the peoples covered in our article, unlike the Uighurs, Tibetans and even Mongols, are intensively integrated into Chinese (Han) society and perceive Han culture. In particular, this applies to the younger generation of national minorities, who, more than the generations of their parents and grandfathers, correlate themselves with a single Chinese nation. Young generations of many ethnic groups practically do not use the languages ​​of their ethnic groups, preferring to speak Chinese and calling themselves Chinese.

It should be noted that the national minorities of South China enjoy certain preferences from the Chinese government, aimed at improving their socio-economic situation and increasing their integration into Chinese society. So, there are certain benefits for national enterprises and farms, representatives of small ethnic groups are allowed to have a larger number of children than the Han Chinese. Much attention is paid to the development of national culture. The Chinese leadership has chosen the path of “smooth assimilation” of national minorities, preserving their culture and traditions as a landmark and a means of attracting tourists. The policy of the People's Republic of China in relation to the national minorities of southern and western China is strikingly different.

In Western China - Tibet and Xinjiang (especially - in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region) - there is a real danger of the spread of separatist sentiment. Moreover, radical Islamist groups are already operating in Xinjiang. Therefore, in these regions, the Chinese government controls the ethnic environment to a much greater degree and uses repressive methods against local nationalists. In turn, the “world community”, under which the agents of American influence are poorly hiding, is trying hard to spread information about “human rights violations” in China. Of course, not because of sympathy for the Uighurs or Tibetans, but guided by quite understandable interests in weakening and decentralizing the Chinese state.

The situation in South China is completely different. National minorities here do not have such a developed self-consciousness as Uigurs or Tibetans, they are well integrated into the Han cultural environment, therefore, the Chinese government acts in their attitude with loyal and stimulating methods, preserving and developing national cultures and providing numerous benefits. Moreover, the national minorities of South China have numerous tribesmen living in the neighboring states of Indochina. Most of the Tibeto-Burmese, Tai-Kadai, Mon-Khmer and Miao-Yao peoples of South China also live on the territory of Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and India, which allows the PRC to implement a policy of influence on these states.

It is no secret that for a long time China supported the Maoist and nationalist separatist movements that operated in the ethnic minority settlement areas in India (separatists in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram), Myanmar, and Thailand. Thus, the South Chinese ethnic groups for a long time could act as a kind of “bridge” between China and their fellow tribesmen in the neighboring countries of South and Southeast Asia. The main threat to the national unity of the Chinese state today may come primarily from national movements in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Uygurs and other Muslim ethnic groups) and the Tibet Autonomous Region (with the support of the United States and Western countries, as well as India, interested in weakening China and using the Tibet Question to pressure him). However, in the southern part of China there is a territory whose population can insist on self-determination. This is the former British colony of Hong Kong, which, although inhabited by the Han, has been developing for a long time as a special economic zone, in a completely different political and cultural plane. In the situation with Hong Kong, it is also difficult not to see the direct interest of Western states and Taiwan.
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