Three political choices and three fusion theories Of multi-ethnic countries

BY APD NEWSOct 01,2018 at 15:20

By Shang Zongping, Visiting Professor of Fudan University

The ethnic and religious problem is the common hotspot and difficult problem of both western and eastern world,The endless refugee problem and violent terrorism ignite public media,Pushing people to face this centurial problem with the cruel fact. when seeing around the world, no country can give out a satisfying reply : the old Europe has lost its way in the wave of the coming refugee, Britain has chosen escaped from the sinking EU, the right wing forces led by French and Germany develop fast, the xenophobia is growing up gradually, countless conflicts between refugee and citizens makes Europe mire into mud and can’t get out; America subverted many “dictatorial countries” in the name of “democratic revolution”, which made the world-wide refugee crisis. But in the matter of accepting refugee, America exposed its imperialist nature of beggar-thy-neighbor completely: refusing the refugees from entering in by the disguised “examine and approve” which will cost a whole year’s time; After several decades’ harassing and attack from “The Three Forces”, China finally formulates systematic policies solving the violent terrorism problem: organizing the universal education by setting up “study class”. But this action is consistently criticized by the western media, especially under the background of Sino-US trade war. So it’s necessary to review the historical development and the political logic of these 3 ways of governing the multi-ethnic countries.

I. European Multiculturalism

The imperialism of old Europe has a long history. In the heyday, it almost turned the whole world into its colony. And there always been an extraordinary cultural pride and racial superiority to the colonial people. After the decline of the Second World War, although British Commonwealth and French-speaking countries gave up their political dominance reluctantly, they inherited the political tradition of their empire. They used the soft power of cultural identity in place of the hard power of political and military to attract former colonial people. The research of the multiculturalism in anthropology and ethnology in the heyday have transformed into a smart cultural centripetal framework. It determined and recognition of multiculturalism and multi-religion with various legislation and policies on the surface but it still retained a strong sense of European cultural superiority in effect, covering up the essence of the assimilation of its cultural colonization in the name of multiculturalism.


The European empire had the tradition of accepting the colonial elites. It had strong interests and a whole set of cultural strategy in the assimilation of these foreigners. It didn’t worry that the foreigners from the culturally weak areas would have impact on the European civilization because of the cultural advantage accumulated by the empires for hundreds of years. On the contrary, the European empire was equipped with strong military and scientific strength with its profound cultural superiority, which made the colonial elites who were either studying or settled dazzled and easily recognized the religious faith and political system of Europe, which created generations of political agents and institutional believers for old Europe. However, in today's unpredictable international situation, it has been hard for old Europe to absorb the large number of refugees flooding in by its soft power. Its downbeat economy environment and increasingly rigid welfare system are difficult to assimilate the tough ordinary Muslims, but cause the fierce conflict between the left and right wings inside. The gap between the ambition of the old empire and the difficult reality has caused Europe into a split. There is no hope in the foreseeable future because it’s so called "multiculturalism" has made it hard to be "politically right".

2 .American “melting pot”

Ethnic assimilation is a historical fact that can’t be ignored or overlooked by the ethnic countries. It is all more so for the immigrant country America. For hundreds of years, eastern, southern European, Asian and part of Hispanic immigrants were persecuted because of assimilation failure. In American immigration policy, assimilation was one condition of accepting or rejecting an immigrant. The history turned out that the formation and development of American nation is a continuous process of accepting and assimilating different nations. The beginning characteristic of the formation of American nation is the assimilation of white persons’ race, forming into one language, one law, one economic system, relatively similar value and moral code called “American lifestyle” and finally formed American social mainstream. Different immigrants from different nations integrated into mainstream--WASP by different degrees and speeds. That’s the general process of assimilation.


The word “The melting pot” was given social and political meaning in American history, it was started from a British Jewish immigrant Israel Zangwill, he wrote a play <the melting pot>, which expressed his view and observation to the American society, he thought America is the crucible of God, a great melting pot which smelts different European races together. In other words, only Europeans have positions in American melting pot. The publishing and playing of <the melting pot> was welcomed by American society. “The melting pot” became a popular term. All the immigrants from the upper class and normal class reached a consensus that immigrants from different places should integrate into melting pot as soon as possible. So it is not hard for us to understand that why until the 1950s the black person still couldn’t have the right to vote, because “the promised land” is saved for WASP.

Although the diversification of culture and religion has developed a lot through black persons’ “civil rights movement” and the hurricane period “1960S”.  The core idea about culture and religion is “melting pot”. Persons who can’t be assimilated by WASP are still “foreigners with American passport”. Racialism and anti-feminism by Trump represent the view of American to the other places of the world: strong male chauvinism and the cultural superiority of “selected persons”, lack of desire and basic respect to different culture and political system, which is also the reason why Europe, China, Islamic world hate the rudeness of America.

3 .Chinese “Unity in diversity” theory

China is a fantasy world that is different from the western world. It has a distinct difference with the world order constructed by the western world both from the traditional culture of history and the ideology of reality. Because the three hundred years military victory of the western world, the people and the elite has forgotten the longing and love to Chine of the masters such as Voltaire and Rousseau in the dark times of Europe and devalued it as synonymous of backward and ignorance. For the cognition of modern China, the western world is still in the Ideological error, and it is difficult to extricate itself from the imagination in which China is arbitrarily portrayed. Most Westerners do not even know China better than the moon.


China has always been a multi-ethnic central empire in the history. Its ethnic and religious policy has thousands of years of inertial thought and internal logic. "Treat the minority with mercy and respect" is China's unwavering principle on ethnic and religious policies. The respect and tolerance to different national cultures and religions have existed in the Chinese dynasties. This is an open-ended approach based on the strong cultural confidence of the “Central Empire”. Especially considering the Qing Dynasty before the founding of the People's Republic of China, it was established and continued for nearly 270 years by The Manchu ethnic minority in China. It’s unimaginable that a very small number of ethnic minorities ruled the Han people which accounted for the vast majority of the population without the respect and learn from ethnic culture of each other.

There is a word on the gravestone of Marx: social science interprets the world in different ways and the problem is changing the world. Chinese Communist Party is practice in this way in China. China’s ethnic and religious policy is the fusion of Marxism and traditional Chinese culture, the “unity” based on Chinese culture and the “diversity” of multi-culture run parallel. China has longer history and more humanized choice than western countries in dealing with ethnic coexist, but never has the cultural superiority and ethnocentrism rooted on the colonial theory. When the western world regards Chinese moderation theory with the zero-sum thinking, it will always generate the incredible stubborn and darkness, which run counter to the boast of respect the multi culture. If we say that in Chinese idiom, we call it “Lord Ye ’s Love of Dragon”, which satirizes those who profess to like or support something, but are averse to it in actual practice.

Most westerners interpreter China’s “study class” system which carried out in Xinjiang by the misleading of the western medias wearing tinted glasses and separatists of Xinjiang. It is common for China and western arguing the concept of “human right”. In this case the western world emphasizes the freedom of private choice; however China emphasizes human rights of subsistence, development and security are the precondition of developing private rights. The different interpretations of both China and western world actually just the interpretations in different levels of a same concept, when western world falls into the refugee crisis and can’t come into a solution, maybe we can reconsider China’s “study class” model, although it doesn’t match western cognition of human rights.  Compared to the “refugee camp” model ,will the vulnerable groups have more sense of dignity and human rights when adopting “the whole people learning” way to solve the irreconcilable ethnic and religious conflict? There are 3 main tasks of “study class”: learning Chinese law; learning different ethnic languages; learning working skill. China’s practice in Xinjiang tell people all over the world that people from different ethnic origins learning from each other, working together is the realistic way to achieve “Pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and God what belongs to God”. The “study class” is not the concentration camp to some specific minorities; it is a massive campaign in which all Xinjiang citizens including Han people participate. People in western democratic system can’t imagine this model, but maybe they can try to understand it before starting criticizing it impetuously. The core of president Xi Jinping’s “a community of shared future for mankind” is different culture should respect and learn from each other. CPC is carrying out a social practice which is rarely witnessed in human history, and we can’t simply equate China with the Soviet Union, regarding China by the thinking of “cold war”. We know that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the history didn’t come to an end like the prediction of some western scholars. China’s model is different from western world, and it is far from perfection, but it provides another way to solve ethnic and religious conflict.


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