Hong-Kong-based South China Morning Post (and perhaps East Asia’s leading English language newspaper) gives us this article (courtesy of Bill Savadore in Qingchengshan):
Bai Liqun still remembers the stories told by the elders about a time when her people slaughtered “Red Army” soldiers who entered the homeland of the Qiang ethnic group around 1949 because they feared the communist government would take away their land.
In the ensuing decades, the Qiang have become increasingly assimilated with the Han majority in Sichuan province through intermarriages and government-funded education for their children.
Relief efforts after the earthquake in Wenchuan county, a centre for the Qiang people, have bolstered the image of the government among ethnic minorities after a security crackdown against Tibetan protests in March.
Sitting around a table for the midday meal, Ms Bai, 44, and fellow villagers spoke with amazement about how the government evacuated an injured woman. “The helicopter ride was free!” Ms Bai exclaimed.
Her opinion is echoed by Muslim Hui people living in nearby Dujiangyan. “Frankly speaking, the treatment by the government has been good,” said Sha Fuquan, who heads the local mosque.
He estimated the quake had affected about 15,000 of the 126,000 Hui in Sichuan. The government had trouble providing food to Hui in refugee camps that met Muslim dietary laws, but Mr Sha was impressed by how some supplies were delivered from Chengdu.
The mosque served as a centre for distributing aid from a network of Muslims in the country to people living in the disaster zone, but organisers had to tell the government of their activities.
I think this is a reminder that China’s multi-ethnic policies are largely working. Most of the victims and “heroes” profiled in the aftermath of the earthquake were not Han, but you wouldn’t have noticed. It would have never occurred to me that Muslim dietary concerns would even be considered during the rescue effort, but I’m glad the government was able to work with civilian groups to meet that community’s needs.