China's Minority Report

When Racial Harmony Means Homogenization

A Tibetan woman carries a child, November 18, 2015. Damir Sagolj / Reuters

During his report to the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang took the time to comment on China’s social goals. In doing so, he reiterated what has become the cornerstone of ethnic policy under Chinese President Xi Jinping: “the acceleration of interethnic contact, exchange, and mingling”—in other words, the blending of peoples through mixed marriages and other forms of social and cultural exposure.

In China, the nation is fundamentally conceived as a biological union, or what Xi calls “a large family” with a long and rich history of “conjoined bloodlines.” In recent years, Xi has repeatedly stressed the need to speed up the pace of cross-ethnic exchanges—with exogamy, or marriage outside one’s own ethnic group, viewed as an important indicator of success. Interethnic marriage, party officials believe, will reduce ethnocultural differences and strengthen identification with a single, shared

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