China pushes inter-ethnic marriage in Xinjiang assimilation drive- Samaa Digital

This file image taken on April 15, 2015 reveals {couples} dancing in Tuanjie sq. in Hotan in China’s western Xinjiang area. AFP

China’s fractious far-west area of Xinjiang has modified its college entrance examination guidelines to present youngsters from combined households a leg-up on different college students, in what consultants say are the most recent efforts to erase a largely Muslim ethnic tradition.

Following a flare-up in violence in 2014, Chinese language authorities have rolled out draconian safety measures throughout Xinjiang in recent times, from banning lengthy beards and Islamic veils to putting an estimated a million largely Muslim ethnic minorities in internment camps.

Chinese language officers describe the amenities as voluntary “vocational schooling centres” the place Turkic-speaking individuals are taught Mandarin and job abilities in a bid to steer them away from spiritual extremism.

However rights teams and former inmates see the measures as a part of a marketing campaign to forcefully assimilate Uighurs and different minorities into the nation’s majority ethnic Han society, diluting their distinctive cultures and non secular beliefs.

Observers say the change within the college enrolment system is one other step in that route, notably in a area the place Uighurs made up nearly half of the 23-million-strong inhabitants, in keeping with 2015 statistics.

In an internet discover posted final week, the Xinjiang authorities printed new guidelines for giving bonus factors to deprived teams within the nationwide faculty entrance exams — a key deciding issue for attending college in China.

In a reversal of final 12 months’s coverage, the regional authorities doubled the variety of bonus factors allotted to inter-ethnic college students — outlined as these with one Han father or mother — to 20, whereas greater than halving the quantity for college students whose mother and father are each ethnic minorities to 15.

The brand new examination coverage is “a part of this effort to sinocize any form of non-Han types of ideas and behavior”, stated James Leibold, a professor at La Trobe College.

The federal government believes that “inter-ethnic marriage is a key automobile for selling nationwide integration and assimilating the Uighurs and different ethnic minorities within the Chinese language nation,” Leibold, who research ethnic relations and coverage in China, instructed AFP.

Police on patrol at Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang. Picture: AFP

Timothy Grose, a China ethnic coverage skilled on the Rose-Hulman Institute of Expertise, stated the “new incentives for intermarriage expose the CCP’s (Chinese language Communist Celebration) systematic strategy to weakening Turkic-Muslim identities.”

“Maybe officers are re-introducing the ‘carrot’ when up to now few years they’ve solely been lashing the ‘stick’,” stated Grose, whose analysis focuses on Uighurs.

The Xinjiang authorities didn’t instantly reply to an AFP request for remark.

– ‘Grandma Li’ –

The change in examination coverage shouldn’t be the primary time Chinese language authorities have provided incentives for inter-ethnic mixing.

In 2014, the Qiemo county authorities in Xinjiang reportedly introduced it will reward combined {couples} — one Han, one ethnic minority — annual money funds of 10,000 yuan ($1,450) for the primary 5 years of their marriage.

“Chinese language policymakers and sociologists have lengthy seen excessive charges or excessive situations of inter-ethnic marriage as a form of proxy image for social cohesion and nationwide integration,” defined Leibold.

This file photograph reveals Uighur ladies clothes in a bazaar in Hotan, in China’s western Xinjiang area on April 15, 2015. (AFP)

On high of initiatives spearheaded by the federal government, movies selling Uighur-Han marriages have additionally emerged on social media over the previous 12 months, although it’s unclear whether or not they’re instantly linked to official insurance policies.

In October, a video printed by “Grandma Li”, a tradition and life-style social media account run by a Xinjiang-based lady, inspired extra individuals to maneuver to the area to “search for love”.

“Though their ethnicity is totally different and their beliefs are totally different, it looks as if it (inter-ethnic marriage) is going on increasingly more now,” stated Li.

“Apart from, the federal government could be very a lot encouraging it — there are even rewards,” she added.

– ‘Mutual suspicion’ –

However it’s unlikely that the most recent government-backed incentive will change perceptions of Uighurs and Han throughout ethnic traces, consultants say.

Although statistics on inter-ethnic marriage in China are scarce, nationwide census information from 2010 reveals that each Han and Uighur populations are inclined to marry inside their ethnic group, with solely 0.2 p.c of Uighurs married to Han individuals.

“Officers have inspired inter-ethnic marriage for many years, however with little success,” stated Grose. “I don’t see how this alteration to check scores will persuade minorities in droves to hunt out Han companions.”

On-line, Chinese language social media customers have voiced scepticism in the direction of top-down insurance policies rewarding inter-ethnic marriages, with some complaining that they’re unfair to Han individuals.

“There’s quite a lot of mutual suspicion and mistrust between the 2 teams however that doesn’t cease the party-state from attempting to push the agenda,” stated Leibold.





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