Jun 10

Relief effort unites ethnic minorities

Written by Buxi on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 at 11:53 pm
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Hong-Kong-based South China Morning Post (and perhaps East Asia’s leading English language newspaper) gives us this article (courtesy of Bill Savadore in Qingchengshan):

Bai Liqun still remembers the stories told by the elders about a time when her people slaughtered “Red Army” soldiers who entered the homeland of the Qiang ethnic group around 1949 because they feared the communist government would take away their land.

In the ensuing decades, the Qiang have become increasingly assimilated with the Han majority in Sichuan province through intermarriages and government-funded education for their children.

Relief efforts after the earthquake in Wenchuan county, a centre for the Qiang people, have bolstered the image of the government among ethnic minorities after a security crackdown against Tibetan protests in March.

Sitting around a table for the midday meal, Ms Bai, 44, and fellow villagers spoke with amazement about how the government evacuated an injured woman. “The helicopter ride was free!” Ms Bai exclaimed.

Her opinion is echoed by Muslim Hui people living in nearby Dujiangyan. “Frankly speaking, the treatment by the government has been good,” said Sha Fuquan, who heads the local mosque.

He estimated the quake had affected about 15,000 of the 126,000 Hui in Sichuan. The government had trouble providing food to Hui in refugee camps that met Muslim dietary laws, but Mr Sha was impressed by how some supplies were delivered from Chengdu.

The mosque served as a centre for distributing aid from a network of Muslims in the country to people living in the disaster zone, but organisers had to tell the government of their activities.

I think this is a reminder that China’s multi-ethnic policies are largely working. Most of the victims and “heroes” profiled in the aftermath of the earthquake were not Han, but you wouldn’t have noticed. It would have never occurred to me that Muslim dietary concerns would even be considered during the rescue effort, but I’m glad the government was able to work with civilian groups to meet that community’s needs.

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19 Responses to “Relief effort unites ethnic minorities”

  1. BMY Says:

    multi-ethnic China often not be understood by people who grow up in single ethnic country. non Hans are often be called no-chinese even they have lived together in the same land since human history.

  2. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I’m happy that the government is working for the people. People are getting the help they need, and that is the bottom line. I’m also surprised by the dietary considerations…would seem to be a secondary consideration, but that they went to those lengths speaks highly of the government’s tolerance and sensitivities.
    On a minor “word-choice” note, assimilate seems like a loaded word…I would hope the Qiang were able to integrate, as opposed to having to assimilate.

  3. Opersai Says:

    @S.K. Cheung,

    But also remember, the line between integration and assimilation is somewhat blur. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

  4. Buxi Says:

    Indeed… S.K. Cheung, did you assimilate into Canadian culture, or did you integrate into Canadian culture? 🙂

    It’s a loaded word. I wish SCMP had used a better one.

  5. DJ Says:

    The talk of ethnic / religious dietary issue reminds me of an odd news I just picked up today: giraffe meat is deemed kosher for Jews.


  6. Nimrod Says:

    Hehe, DJ, I think it depends on the number of toes, or how they are split or something like that.

  7. BMY Says:

    I think ‘assimilate(each other)’ is a better words between Han and Qiang because none of us are migrants in SiChuan. normally we say new arrivals integrate into the existing population or the native integrate into new arrivals.

    I remember Qiang people were in northwest in SanGuo time(in the area of now GanSu and the west of ShannXi) instead of south west now days. So they moved into Han populated area.
    Anyway, we are all Chinese.

  8. chicken lau Says:

    The SCMP East Asia’s leading newspaper? That’s the most ridculous thing I’ve heard all week. Even China Daily beats the SCMP, and that’s saying something.

  9. Leo Says:


    China Daily? Circulation yes, influence? Japan Times, Korea Times and Teipei Times have even less in both aspects. The SCMP is considered important because it is a legacy of the white men.

    Also please don’t confuse Australia and the Phillipines with East Asia. The Phillipines are part of SE Asia, and Australia counts as another continent.

  10. yo Says:

    “The SCMP is considered important because it is a legacy of the white men.”

    can someone explain this?

  11. Buxi Says:

    The South China Morning Post has a long, established history within the British community in Hong Kong… so I assume that’s what Leo means.

    Whatever the reason, the SCMP remains one of the premier papers in East Asia. China Daily and Taipei Times don’t even belong on the list… both are pretty low-grade publications that serve a political purpose.

  12. FOARP Says:

    @Leo – SCMP is a professionally produced paper – all the other papers you mention are expat papers – a totally different animal and not even comparable to the quality of SCMP.

    @Buxi – As much as I get turned off by the extreme pro-green bias of their editorials (and I am most definitely not a blue-camper), I am yet to come across an instance of TT (or “Typo Times” as a friend of mine calls it) publishing an article which is a total fabrication rather than just slanted reporting – China Daily is a different story. Anyway, I like TT’s Johnny Neihu column way more than anything in CD.

  13. Nimrod Says:

    FOARP, isn’t it just a matter of how much you can stretch the truth? There’s a little bit of truth in everything, even Epoch Times. An article that is all rumor may even randomly hit on something true.

  14. yo Says:

    I read the China Daily now and then and I never got the impression they fabricated a story. Stretch the truth, yep, biased, check, leave stuff out, hell yeah. Actually, I have no data to back this up, but the average China Daily news article is like half the length of say a CNN page.

    What I do like to use the paper for is business related stuff. They are usually good with that and the articles are insightful.

  15. yo Says:


    Thanks for the explanation. I checked the SCMP, it’s interesting.

    But I was wondering if you or anyone else knows of a good fair and balanced English language Chinese newspaper that is free(as in beer).

    I heard Phoenix TV news is good but they don’t have an English portal.

  16. Buxi Says:


    Hmm… that’s a *really* tough one. I really don’t think you have many choices. I used to occasionally look at Singapore’s Strait Times, but I believe that might have also gone to a “for pay” format. Other newspapers like the Asia Times still usually has a Western-emphasis on issues.

    I think blogs like ESWN (and hopefully us) might be a great way to get current information on what’s going on from a Chinese perspective.

  17. yo Says:

    I’m a big fan of ESWN! But sad to say, the disadvantage is that he is only one guy and coming out with content(or translating the content) is SLOOOOOOW. Your blog is great too(why else would I come back 🙂 )

    As for me, because I still haven’t found a good newspaper/website, you guys, ESWN, Shanghaiist, Danwei, etc are filling in a big void, much appreciated.

  18. Nimrod Says:

    Well, this is certainly an interesting niche to fill. Not many people are in the business of bridging the language gap. It does take dedication. We’re breaking new ground here, mostly because of Buxi putting in the time.

  19. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi:
    like to think I’m integrated.

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