More than half of China, lying beyond the Great Wall, were added to China by conquests. And all along its western border, 5000 miles long, live the conquered peoples—Tibetans, Manchus, Uighurs, Mongols and other—sullen and rebellious. China has become a prison to its minorities.

It is said that a nation is judged by the way it treats its minorities. This is largely true. How does China stand up to this test? Rather terribly. China is the most oppressive nation to its minorities. Can there be anything more terrible than China’s determined efforts to obliterate the identity of the minorities? At the same time, it is the most chauvinistic about the identity of its own people—the Hans—abroad.

China has been attempting a “final solution” by submerging the separate identity of the conquered in a sea of the Han race through colonisation, forced marriages and destruction of the visible symbols of their separate identity! And this by a state which calls itself socialist!

There are about 100 or so non-Han ethnic groups in China. They number about 100 million or so. It is insignificant compared to the Han race. By the way, they are concentrated in three provinces—Tibet, Sinkiang and Inner Mongolia. Take away these three provinces, China will be reduced to a small state with little of resources.

China had two distinct lines on minorities—a Marxist line and a Mao line. The Marxists line—self-determination of nations—can be traced to the 1920’s. But when Mao came to lead the party, the attitude began to change. Self-determination gave way to autonomy and autonomy gave way to assimilation. But during the 8th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party under Liu Shao Chin, the policy of “Great Han Chauvinism” of Mao condemned and China went back to self-determination. But it was Mao’s policy, which prevailed at the end.

Millions of Han people were moved to the minority areas. Thus two Han regions were added to Inner Mongolia in order to reduce the proportion of the Mongols to 10 per cent. Similarly, non-Han people were deliberately scattered throughout China. Yet another method adopted by China to destroy the separate identity of the minorities was by forcing marriages with the Han men. Forcing the marriage of non-Han girls with Han men, in turn, forced the minority men to marry Han girls.

Colonisation and other anti-minority measures produced revolts among the minorities. But these were brutally suppressed. Beijing characterised them as “class struggle.”

From 1960s, the Maoists began to suppress minority cultures. The Chinese media openly asserted at this time that China had scope only for one race—the Great Hans. One paper called for “fusion” of races. Another said that “assimilation” is a Marxist measure. It said: “He who is opposed to assimilation is opposed to socialism and communism”. After such categoric assertions, there was little revolt. That is why the world is surprised over the continuing revolt in Tibet.

During the “cultural revolution”, theatres, music, literature, etc. of minorities were abolished. They were not allowed denominational schools of their own. The medium of instruction was charged to Chinese and the minority languages came to be written in Chinese script.

We hear of only Tibet these days, not much of Sinkiang and inner Mongolia. This is because the Tibetan exiles are all over the world keeping up the problem alive. What is more, the strategic location of Tibet has attracted interference by America. American strategists see that Sinkiang and Tibet together can become a major base to dislodge the communists from Beijing. This explains why China refuses to come to terms with the Dalai Lama.

As for Sinkiang, the Muslim area, Hans continue to pour into this region in order to alter the population balance. Sinkiang is rich in minerals. By the way it is also one of the nuclear centres of China.

Although little is known of Inner Mongolia, it can cause considerable problems for China if there is a demand from the two Mongolias for unification. In view of China’s own demand for unification of Taiwan, it will be difficult for China to decline the demand.

Like the Mongols, the Manchus too conquered China and ruled over the country for 300 years. When the Manchus were ousted from power by the Chinese nationalists, Manchuria was annexed with China. Manchuria is the richest province of China, which explains why Japan tried to seize it during the Second World War. The Manchus too have been reduced to a minority in their own homeland.

There are 10-12 million Muslims in China. The fundamentalists are trying to wean away the Muslim regions from China. It is true that the task will be difficult, for China has destroyed the life-support system, that is the wakf boards and madrassas. Today even the construction of a new mosque needs permission from the local authorities.