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Citation Information

Type Conference Paper - Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences June 12-15, 2003
Title Mission Impossible? Can China Survive as a Multinational State?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2003
URL https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dongyan_Blachford/publication/228732165_Mission_Impossible_Can_​China_Survive_as_a_Multinational_State/links/00b4952b2325208f7f000000.pdf
After the collapse of the two communist multinational states, the Soviet Union and
Yugoslavia, the fact that the People’s Republic of China survives as the only
communist multinational state poses two serious questions: First, why does China
remain intact? Second, will China be able to survive in its present state and for how
long? This paper intends to answer these two questions. The analysis is centred on
two areas: formation and characteristics of China’s ethnic minorities and their role in
this multinational state, and the government institutional building and ethnic minority
policies that contribute to the national cohesion and unity.
We argue that in fact only two minority groups in two regions, Tibetans in Tibet and
Uygurs in Xinjiang, have the real potential of secession. But it is highly unlikely that
China as a multinational state will disintegrate in the near future. This is mainly because
of China’s institutional building for minority nationality governance and the
government’s minority policies, which serve as determining forces, persuasively and
coercively, to maintain national unity and keep the separatist forces at bay. On the other
hand, however, China is facing a lot of challenges, some of which are directed at or have
a strong impact on its minority policies. If the government does not respond properly, that
may lead to crises. But ethnic minority separation might become possible only as a result
of China’s political crisis, rather than separatist movements leading to the demise of the
multinational state.

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