Sunday, November 11, 2012

Whose Ethnic Garb at the Chinese Party Congress?

Punk rocker and Eurasia Group analyst Damien Ma moonlights as a blogger for The Atlantic website. He’s being uncommonly productive there recently, what with the Chinese Party Congress in progress. He’s made it so far to the pageantry of the first day. There, he writes:

For every major Communist Party occasion, most of all the congress, several set pieces must be present: podium wrapped in flowers, minorities in their ethnic garb, sprinkling of female delegates, sleeping octogenarians, and bored leaders. The congress' opening ceremony did not disappoint on any of these fronts.

And neither did the rest of his post. But what’s this about “minorities in their ethnic garb”? Ah, there it is. But don’t the Han people have their own “ethnic garb”? I ask Damien, and it appears that the Han don’t need to be represented because they’re not a minority. Wait, didn’t the British Empire used to trot out overseas subjects in the ceremonial dress of their origin on festive occasions?

China may recognize 56 ethnic groups, but the Han are obviously more equal than the others. And you can be sure that Beijing is not consulting the other 55 in dealing with their Diaoyu question.

It’s also funny how the financial crisis has made the world all but forget Tibetans and the Uighurs and whomever else that may be refusing to submit, but that’s another story.

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