Friday, September 24, 2010

China's minorities

While the majority of people in China are 'Han ren' descendants of the Han Dynasty, a vast number of Chinese are not 'Han ren'. They are the many many minority groups of China. China occupies Tibet and so a huge number of the minorities are Tibetan. Then there is Eastern Turkestan or Xinjiang province as China prefers to call it, here the Turkic people predominates. Scattered all over China and especially in Southern China, there are a myriad of other minorities. Here in Lijiang, the Nasi people predominates. They have their own language and even their own alphabet which they call 'dongba'. The official number of minorities is over 70. Minorities are given rights not given to 'Han ren'. They can have as many children as they want and there are special schools and monetary incentives. So every year more and more groups apply to the Chinese government to be classified as a minority. I am Chinese but not from China. People like me are called 'overseas Chinese.' There is a special word in Chinese for people like me. So when in China, I tell that's what I am, an overseas Chinese, they understand..... especially when I can't speak Chinese and don't read Chinese.

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