Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

China's civil war? 2

I've previously put forth the idea of China's "westernization" presenting calamitous consequences along the ethnic divisions that exist there. My thought was that as the old ChiCom guard waned a fractious event would take place in China as it (a bit analogous to the Soviet breakup) essentially shattered into ethnic sub-states. The most cogent counterpoints (an example here at tdaxp) I received was that a Han based collapse would be more likely as the economic boon bore unmanageable disparities between the rural impoverished and the urban well off.

Now I have to ponder: Instead of an either/or possibility regarding Chinese national cohesion, perhaps a nightmare scenario of both effects is more realistic. As Phil enlightens us, China has essentially covered up it's domestic turmoil along the ethnic divide. Further, Adam has explored this event and through these two (among more) points:

  • China's strategy of dealing with rebellious provinces such as Tibet and Xinjiang is to try to change their ethnic composition by overwhelming them with settlers from heartland provinces. Add massive economic development, and China effectively colonizes the province and reduces the chances of revolt.
  • But this isn't working in Xinjiang. The ethnic Chinese settlers, like all colonists, have become the favored elite. Meanwhile, intense economic and racial discrimination has transformed the Uighurs into ghettoized and impoverished minority in their own homelands. This kind of strategy isn't going to turn Xinjiang into a docile province--it's going to transform it into a Chinese West Bank.

:seems to bring the worst of both the ethnic and predominantly Han economic fracture to bear.

Were I Hu Jintao (or Wen Jiabao) I would be wishing and praying that I was not, in fact, Hu Jintao (or Wen Jiabao.) In a position of non-control over a hyperactive economy, facing ethnic and economic domestic fracture, and having to deal with the American schizophrenic Cold Warrior/Economic Connect approach would likely drive me insane.

For those that would view China as the "next great challenge" in the Cold Warrior realm of theory I'd suggest that even if China had designs on eclipsing America on the global front they've got their hands a tad full domestically to even make a run at it.

Edited for Update: Curzon is inviting commentary on China's future in light of an article written in which the PM reflects on China's rise and how it doesn't conflict with America's global superiority.


ChinaLawBlog said...

I agree with you that China has its hands full domestically, but I think most of that stems from the 900 million or so of its people that have not yet fully taken part in the Chinese miracle, not so much from ethnic problems. China does have its ethnic problems, but I see them keeping those under control.

Jay@Soob said...

Thanks for your take, clb. I certainly hope you're right as a stable China is definitely in the best interest of global stability.

Dan tdaxp said...

Interesting... I found a map by HJ de Blij which seems to tie into this post. I'll try to blog it this weekend.

Jay@Soob said...

Looking forward to it.