China has often been construed by many academicians and Asian studies commentators as a single nation with a solitary majority population (Gladney, 2004). As Gladney (2004) continues to state, the Han often refer to the general Chinese population, with the exception of a few inconsequential minorities. However, a closer look at the social strata that defines the Chinese nation reveals a different perspective; the Chinese people, indeed, are acutely diverse both geographically and linguistically, characterized by a multicultural and multi-ethnic dispensation. Indeed, the importance of culture to the Chinese society cannot be understated, especially as it pertains to post Cold ...view middle of the document...
It is this state of affairs that eventually resulted in the 1911 revolution and the first generation of visionary leaders keen on thwarting imperialism, in a broader sense represented by European powers. The civil war ended just a few years after World War II and this is one of the prime factors that determined the direction of the Chinese nation, perhaps because of the global Cold War confrontation pitting the communism against capitalism.
Ethnic identification is perhaps the very basis that potentially explains the root causes of class lines within Chinese culture. As Gladney (2004) explains, shortly after the formation of the PRC, the administration sought to recognize undocumented population groups in an effort to register them as official nationalities. According to Gladney (2004), this was not a voluntary effort by the government, rather a honorary extension of several agreements the government had made with locals before its ascension to power. Gladney (2004) documents that the basis for ethnic identification on part of the government has its roots dating back to the long march of 1935 to 1935 by the CCP in escaping imminent death from Kuomintang forces led by Chiang Kai-shek.
Mao Zedong and his party leadership were exposed to the inequalities and ethnic discrepancies faced by minority population as they traversed the northern regions of China. The minority population was not welcoming especially with regard to communism and it was inescapable for the CCP to form alliances and offer promises of inclusion and recognition within the new government. Gladney (2004) continues to afford that although over 400 distinct groups applied for registration, in the 1953 census, only about 41 nationalities were listed. The question then would be; what happened to the other balance of groups that applied for recognition? Were they simply left out? The answer to these questions lies in the Soviet psychological perception of the four commons as popularized by Joseph Stalin. This sociological ideology provides that individual or groups, who live in a common territory, share a common language, have similar economic dispositions, and similar psychological distinctions are likely to belong to a certain particular larger group with the same characteristics. Therefore, during the census, it is possible to grasp that the CCP grouped the other unrecognized minorities with either the Han, or other recognized groups with which they shared the same similarities in regards to the four commons.
Ethnic identification was however compounded by the possibility of secession by the recognized ethnic minorities. The principle was based on the voluntary association and voluntary separation of all relevant minorities who constituted the Chinese republic. But shortly after rising to power, Mao Zedong resorted to popularize the notion of a united ethnic front as stated by Gladney (2004). Mao Zedong understood that the greatest impediment to the...