Under the ethnic affairs management regime established by the People’s Republic of China, every Chinese citizen is classified within one of 56 state-recognised ‘nationalities’. Government policy assumes that these nationalities differ from one another primarily in their levels of economic development, and asserts that ethnic divisions and identities fade with the gradual achievement of economic and social equality. As a result, economic development policy in minority nationality areas has often constituted a replica of the model which has already proven successful in China’s Han-Chinese dominated east.
Research conducted across five locations in China’s Northwest paints a far more complex picture, however. This book considers for the first time how identity informs the nature of economic participation among ethnic minority entrepreneurs in China’s remote Northwest. Through interviews with entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, including Tibetan, Han and Muslim Chinese, this book highlights how ethnic—and other—identities inform the nature of economic participation. Furthermore, it explores the broader implications of this de-facto economic segregation for China’s ongoing social harmony and political stability. Ultimately, this book demonstrates how economic participation, even when successful in achieving its economic outcomes, may actually serve to reinforce and strengthen minority national identity—perhaps even at the expense of national Chinese identity.
This book will be useful for students and scholars of Chinese Studies, Ethnic Studies and Economics.
Table of Contents
2. Ethnicity and Nationality
3. Economic Development and Identity in China
4. Xining City: Xining's Tibetan Entrepreneurs
5. Hezheng County: China’s Multi-Ethnic Economy at the Local Level
6. Dongxiang County: The People of the East Village
7. Linxia City: Doing Business in China’s ‘Little Mecca’
8. Lanzhou City: An Islamic Economy in a Han City
Joshua Bird works across the Asia-Pacific region in the field of international development. He is currently International Program Coordinator for ChildFund Australia.