A friend of mine (40 year old male) who works for the human resources department of a Chinese state-owned steel factory in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has been extremely busy these days. As part of the country’s large-scale economic stimulus project, 400 new employment opportunities were offered in the factory. In the midst of an economic downturn, these jobs offering a monthly salary of 2,000 yuan (approximately 300 USD) are attracting a flood of applications. “High school diploma or higher, between age of 18 to 28, healthy and ethnic Han” is the requirement for the employment, the friend told me over the phone. I was puzzled why only the Hans are offered employment opportunities in this ethnic minority region’s factory.
“Our city’s population is predominantly Han, and the factory workers are all Han. If you hire the Mongols, due to their cultural and life-style differences, there will be an extra burden for us to manage them,” he explains.
After years of population transfer policy by the Chinese authorities, ethnic autonomy has been turned to a titular one.
According to Chinese Government statistics, the population of ethnic Han in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is well over 20 million, which accounts for 80% of the total population. In contrast, the Mongolian population is only 17%. Most of the local government cadres and state-run business managers are Chinese, and in fact ethnic minority discrimination is taking place as if it is natural.
Since the Tibetan uprising in last March, the Chinese authorities have geared up their patriotic education toward ethnic minorities. However, the ones who really need to be better educated might well be the Han cadres who planted the seeds of ethnic minorities’ discontent. (Yazaka Akio)
(English translation by SMHRIC)