China's Ethnic Minorities and Globalisation

China's Ethnic Minorities and Globalisation

China's Ethnic Minorities and Globalisation

China's Ethnic Minorities and Globalisation


This book examines the current state of China's ethnic minorities at a time when ethnic affairs and globalization are key forces affecting the contemporary world. It considers the fields of policy, economy, society and international relations, including the impact of globalization and outside influences.


It is a truism to say that changes in the world at large, and in China in particular, have been enormous since the early 1990s. These changes have affected China’s ethnic minorities and necessitated a reconsideration of many matters relating to them. Some of the particular aspects of China’s minorities are covered in two earlier works that I completed in the early 1990s. These aspects are also treated in the present book, such as policy, international relations, economy and population. The material and interpretations come from a time period reflecting these recent changes. The term ‘globalisation’ was already in widespread use, yet it had not yet assumed the status of ‘grand narrative’ for interpreting the state of the world that it has come to occupy at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Although I take full responsibility for any weaknesses or errors this book may contain, I should like to offer thanks to the many people who have helped me write it. The first to mention are the members of the minorities themselves, who have offered me friendship and cooperation in giving me the material that forms the basis of the book. Several Chinese organisations have made it possible for me to visit the ethnic areas of China, some of which are situated in places that are difficult to access, by making travel arrangements and offering necessary assistance. The Australian Research Council has given me several research grants that have enabled me to spend time in China and its ethnic areas, to buy books and other materials about China’s minorities, and to undertake other research activities necessary for writing this book. My own university has been generous in granting me necessary leave and providing excellent research conditions, and my colleagues have always been supportive of my research and shared their ideas generously.

In the last few years I have taught a course at Griffith University entitled ‘Minorities Questions in Asia’, which has included quite a lot of material on China. I would like to thank the students who have taken this course; quite a few of them over the years. They have helped me frame my ideas on minorities’ issues, commented on lectures, taken part in discussions and given me insights of value to formulating and thinking through ideas and interpreting information. Finally, I should like to thank my family, who have offered criticisms and comments, given unstinting assistance and shared many ideas with me.

Colin Mackerras
June 2002 . . .

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