Sat, May 18, 2019 - Page 6 News List

China pushes interethnic unions in restive region

AFP, BEIJING

In October last year, a video published by “Grandma Li,” a culture and lifestyle social media account run by a Xinjiang-based woman, encouraged more people to move to the region to “look for love.”

“Even though their ethnicity is different and their beliefs are different, it seems like it [interethnic marriage] is happening more and more now,” Grandma Li said. “Besides, the government is very much encouraging it — there are even rewards.”

However, it is unlikely that the latest government-backed incentive will change perceptions of Uighurs and Han across ethnic lines, experts said.

Although statistics on interethnic marriage in China are scarce, national census data from 2010 showed that Han and Uighur populations tend to marry within their ethnic group, with only 0.2 percent of Uighurs married to Han people.

“Officials have encouraged interethnic marriage for decades, but with little success,” Grose said. “I don’t see how this change to test scores will persuade minorities in droves to seek out Han partners.”

Online, Chinese social media users have voiced skepticism toward top-down policies rewarding interethnic marriages, with some complaining that they are unfair to Han people.

“There’s a great deal of mutual suspicion and distrust between the two groups, but that doesn’t stop the party-state from trying to push the agenda,” Leibold said.

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