An institutional assessment of ethnic conflict in China
Betz, Jeffrey D.
Miller, Alice L.
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Since its creation in 1949, the People's Republic of China has had to deal with problems of ethnic conflict. This is due to China's large and diverse minority population, which accounts for approximately eight percent of the total population, or nearly 100 million people. From 1949 onward, the PRC has struggled to integrate these diverse people into a unified nation. Throughout this period the relationship between the Chinese government and many of the country's minorities has been fraught with conflict. This thesis examines the role of the institutions used by Beijing to manage its relationship with minorities in China. It includes a discussion of current theoretical research on ethnic conflict, a detailed explanation of the institutional approach to the study of ethnic conflict, and the application of this institutional approach to the Chinese case. In applying the institutional framework to the PRC's experience, this thesis examines the different ethnic conflict management strategies employed by Beijing from 1949 to present and evaluates the response of China's minorities to each strategy. Ultimately, this thesis concludes that the institutions used by the Chinese government since 1949 have not been effective at mitigating ethnic conflict in China. Additionally, this study demonstrates that the institutional approach is highly useful in understanding the causes of ethnic conflict in the Chinese case.
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