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Maternity Tourism

The 14th Amendment legally makes any baby born in the United States an American citizen. This was originally legislated to make children of African American slaves legitimate in the United States. Since then, the law has been exploited by foreign nationals to gain foot-hold into the country. Illegal immigrants come to the U.S. for birthing and in turn use the babies’ status to gain legal residence.

Apparently, there is a rising wave of Chinese nationals exploiting the 14th Amendment too. The New York Times recently reported, “Arriving as Pregnant Tourists, Leaving With American Babies” where a San Gabriel, California residence was illegally converted for use as a nursery for such purposes. Following passage basically summarized the issue:

Much of the debate has focused on immigrants entering illegally from poor countries in Latin America. But in this case the women were not only relatively wealthy, but also here legally on tourist visas. Most of them, officials say, have already returned to China with their American babies.

The article also cited the Center for Health Care Statistics that the most recent data (from 2008) showed 7,462 babies born from non-resident foreign nationals. Unfortunately, the article didn’t say anything about the Pew Hispanic Center’s statistics for illegal immigrant babies: 2.7 million in 2003 and 4.0 million in 2008, a 50% rise in five years!

The controversy across America is really driven by illegal immigrant births. While this ‘China’ phenomenon is not yet rampant, I can see too that in the coming years, more wealthy Chinese nationals taking advantage of this birthright loop-hole. I suppose ‘China’ the bogeyman can always be pulled out the closet, and I cringe at the thought.

Personally, I think this 14th Amendment loop-hole ought to be closed. For most countries, permanent resident’s and citizen’s children inherit citizenship automatically. I don’t think it is heavy-handed to make the same in the U.S.. The amendment is a by-product of history, and there is really nothing so sacred about the Constitution forbidding this law from being altered.

It is interesting to note that the recent “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009” was not approved in Congress. It appears the impasse was due to Republicans and Democrats wrangling in Congress.

Not everything is rosy. This China Daily article reported a baby center in Flushing, New York, misleading their clients about insurance:

The center helps clients to procure a $1,500-worth insurance policy issued by the US government for pregnant women to cover the costs of medical checkups and the delivery.

“You can’t get this yourself. We have our way,” said Gao, whose partner Sandy Zheng is a doctor with the Flushing Hospital Medical Center. “In order to get the insurance, you need documents from a licensed doctor here.”

Tang (an immigrant lawyer) said he doesn’t believe this insurance policy exists.

As the passage suggests, in case of emergency, expense may very well escalate. Invariably, the client will have to pay.

The NYT article portrayed a “shoddy” living accommodation at the San Gabriel home. But that is probably more of an exception rather than the norm. As the China Daily article illustrated with the Flushing example, I think such places are generally well provided for. At least by wealthy Chinese living standards, they are fine. Remember, these Chinese are well educated and are cosmopolitan. They know a thing or two about safety and what to expect.

If there had been any mishap, bet on the U.S. media jumping all over it. To date, we have not heard of one. The China Daily article also reported a four-month stay ranges from $21,660 to $27,800, and that should provide a decent amount of care in the U.S..

On the supply side, such services are well packaged. You don’t need to understand Chinese to get a feel for what this 香水湾 maternity center is offering. Bear in mind, they are not violating any U.S. laws. The 14th Amendment makes their business legitimate, since the mothers are legally entering the U.S. through tourist visas.

Below are listing of eight benefits by 香水湾 (in Chinese with my rough translation):

孩子美国出生,立刻拥有美国身份, 享有公民权利
American-born children automatically have citizenship rights.

享有就读美国公立小学至高中,完全免学费
Entitled to attend U.S. public elementary through high school free.

读公立大学、研究所学费只要外国学生的10%,容易进入知名大学
Cost of public university tuition will be only 10% that of foreign students. Easy access to well-know universities.

可申请美国公民才能享有的奖学金,1%低利率助学贷款
Apply for scholarships only U.S. citizens are entitled to. 1% low interest rate subsidized student loans.

无条件留在高收入的美国工作,可以优先担任美国政府,公家单位及大型企业重要领导岗位
Can legally remain in high paying jobs in the U.S., apply for government jobs, and qualify for higher positions.

180多个邦交国入境免签证,最优惠出入境便利
180 some visa-free countries to travel to, facilitate favorable travels.

享有美国各种社会福利措施及医疗设备
Entitled to U.S. social welfare and medical benefits.

美国公民身份可享有美国政府保护撤离
U.S. citizens are eligible for U.S. government protection abroad.

If you put some thought into it, these benefits are not necessarily that ‘great.’ Honestly, I would discourage potential clients from this maternity tourism.

From a practical standpoint, without a legal guardian residing in the U.S. it is virtually impossible to enjoy any U.S. benefits. What parents would not want to raise their own child? And, indeed, babies born under such circumstances are brought back. Then, why subject a few weeks old infant to such a strenuous journey?

Attending well-known U.S. universities is not by any means ‘easy.’ Assuming their children grow up in China, they will still need to apply just like any other U.S. citizen. They are likely at a disadvantage because they lack the English language skills as well as the cultural immersion necessary to have a complete and strong application.

Certainly, they will be able to bypass having to compete with other nationals for student visas. The real advantage really comes down to a much easier entry into less known universities in the U.S.. Government subsidized loans are in limited quantity, so there is no guarantee on how much can be borrowed. In few decades, who knows?

Let’s consider China though. Opportunities in China are growing by leaps and bounds. It may very well be in 22 years time frame, a Chinese national having graduated from a not so well known Chinese college will have a much easier time finding job than compared to another who attends a similar college in the U.S. and finding a job there.

Given the fact that China does not recognize dual citizenship, and assuming such child unable to gain Chinese citizenship, aren’t the parents taking a big risk? Do the parents fully understand the ramifications locally on a day to day basis?

The U.S. passport does offer a great deal of convenience in traveling abroad. Given China’s economic growth, it is likely China making similar visa-free arrangements with more countries in the future. The child cannot travel without the parents, so the whole family is still constrained by the relative inconvenience of the Chinese passports.

With social security virtually bankrupt and the country in heavy debt, would the parents still consider sending their child to the U.S. to help shoulder the financial burdens?

Look at the Western world now, and who knows, Britain may collapse in the next few years.

London Protests (Sohu)

There is indeed a mighty U.S. military, and the U.S. does look after her citizens around the world. But how often does one need Uncle Sam that way?

Given all these uncertainties, that $20,000+ could be put to better use. Exploiting the 14th Amendment loop-hole in my opinion does not fully add up. It is not very honorable either.

Like I said earlier, expect the U.S. media to bash ‘China’ and the ‘Chinese’ over this maternity tourism thing. This ‘problem’ may even disappear on its own. That 4.0 million figure will need to be addressed if indeed one feels the ‘birthright’ problem is real.

  1. Wukailong
    March 30th, 2011 at 04:36 | #1

    “Let’s consider China though. Opportunities in China are growing by leaps and bounds. It may very well be in 22 years time frame, a Chinese national having graduated from a not so well known Chinese college will have a much easier time finding job than compared to another who attends a similar college in the U.S. and finding a job there.”

    I agree that in 22 years time, the situation will probably be very different. But still, as much as I would like it to be untrue, my experience here indicates that even people quite well-off still want to emigrate in large numbers. Back in the 1990s it was because Chinese were better off in the US and had more opportunities. This time it’s because of the environment and in the general level of trust towards the society that people feel. So despite all the opportunities, people don’t feel safe, and that’s what’s driving emigration.

    Also, getting visas to developed nations is a hard task if you carry a Chinese passport. A lot of people find it worthwhile to change nationality if it makes it easier for them to travel.

  2. March 30th, 2011 at 05:48 | #2

    WKL,

    I would disagree a little.

    I don’t think well-off/rich people migrate to US for safety. I think if you are a rich person, you would want to live whereever you want.

    Let’s face it, Rich people are not restricted by Nationalities. They have money.

    *My rich cousin has houses in US, HK and China (and looking at Australia). But he doesn’t bother to change nationality.

  3. March 30th, 2011 at 06:11 | #3

    The problem of US immigration policies is that it is inequitable, loopholes for some, and unfair to others.

    They don’t want “foreigners” to come and take jobs from Americans, but then they want Rich foreigners to bring money into US for investment.

    But that’s the pure legal/political side.

    The real problem is the basic Western concept of “assimilation” in immigration. (And I contend that it is a purely Western notion, and inherently a very racist one).

    Why does US need “assimilation”? Because it essentially declares that its Angelo-Saxon Western Europe Protestant tradition is the superior one, to which others must learn to adopt or adapt to, but it does not have to do the reverse.

    “Assimilation” is a remnent of colonial/imperial era, where slaves and foreign poor were brought into US and Western Europe as cheap labors, and they were “Christianized”/assimilated into the society as “civilized” people.

    But the concept remained in modern day immigration policy as a basic mentality or assumption, that immigrants must be “assimilated”.

    *In contrast, Japan, though having a closed immigration policy, simply assumes that foreigners are not like native Japanese, and do not necessary think that they will become Japanese in any fashion.

    Similarly in China, I believe there is no active assumption that “foreigners” need to adopt Chinese culture to live in China.

    (this brings back to an old topic of whether “Laowai” is considered offensive).

    I think “immigrant” is a far more offensive label than “Laowai”.

    “Laowai”/foreigner at least acknowledge that you are a person of a different nationality and/or culture.

    Whereas “Immigrant” in the Western sense, carries a stigma that you are 2nd class citizen who is being “assimilated”, (that you are backward, or poor, or even slow, or anchor baby, or in West to take away jobs from real citizens).

    (look at the whole UCLA girl rant, it’s purely based upon stereotypes of “unassimilated” immigrants. Ie. you are new to US, and you don’t know “OUR” ways.)

    *As I stated above, “Immigrant” in the West carries a distinctive cultural/racial stigma of “assimilation”. And that is at the heart of Western Immigration policies.

    As long as the West continues to make such stigmatizing assumptions about immigrants, the Western politicians will not make intelligent rational immigration policies.

  4. pug_ster
    March 30th, 2011 at 10:00 | #4

    Closing this loophole won’t stop Maternity Tourism. The women could simply ‘rent’ a man of us citizen as its father and the birth certificate would reflect that. Closing this loophole would probably hurt Mexicans more because the ones who come to the states tend to be poor.

    The article didn’t touch on many points, Maternity Tourism is not illegal, the only thing illegal is the building code violation in the house. Chinese are not the majority who does this Maternity Tourism, but well off people from other Asian countries like Korea, as well as Middle east who does this.

    I know someone who has a tourist baby. Their mother knew my in laws and arranged to live with them for a few months until she gave birth and was able to get a passport to leave the country about 20 years ago. Their daughter came back to the US when she was 17 to finish 12th grade and then next yearwas able to goto a local university. I don’t know how she doing academically, but she wants to work in the medical field.

    I have mixed feelings about them. If they have the baby in China, it would be extremely hard to get a job in the US whereas it is much easier to get a job if she is an US citizen. She is from HK, so I am guessing that their parents decided to go thru this process thinking of the uncertainty at around 1990 at the future of HK handover to China. Also, the job market is much more competitive in China and HK compared to the US. Going to a decent school or job is a rat race there compared to the States.

  5. March 30th, 2011 at 10:39 | #5

    In many ways, ease of travel and visa grant are a function of how badly tourists from certain countries are sought.

    In recent years, there is a definite vying for Chinese tourists. For example, in Australia:

    Australian tourism competition to lure Chinese visitors

    The last time I was in Hawaii, I heard about the tourist industry there advertising in China.

    I have read Japan, U.S., and Europe targeting affluent Chinese citizens.

    @raventhorn2000, #3

    Interesting point.

    “Assimilation” is usually “forced” upon the weak. For example, during the Tang dynasty, Japan copied everything Chinese.

    Usually it is the patronizing and hypocricy in the West that is so annoying.

    @pug_ster

    Yeah, the way the NYT article is written, it seems like maternity tourism is illegal. To it’s credit, it did quote someone saying no laws were broken in maternity tourism itself.

    “Renting” a man is infinitely riskier and I don’t think many people would resort to that.

    Indeed, closing the loophole affects mainly Mexicans and Latin Americans. In states like California, Arizona, Texas, etc., where there is a big population of Mexicans (and let’s be real too, these were territories taken from Mexico to begin with), this issue is much more complicated.

    Thus, the failure to pass in the 2009 Congress is that the two political parties can’t come to agreement.

    In regards to the run up to the 1997 Hong Kong hand-over, I thought a strategy with the Brits was to instill fear. That way, capital would leave Hong Kong. And I have no doubt much went to U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, etc..

  6. SilentChinese
    March 30th, 2011 at 11:27 | #6

    Don’t read into these things too much, these guys who run these places just want to make a buck!
    it is the same bunch that runs these visa/immigration service/human trafficing joints that has ties to underground in NYC/LA.

  7. xian
    March 30th, 2011 at 16:36 | #7

    If I was American I’d want the loophole closed as well, but that’s probably not going to happen. Something about due process?

    Assimilation is strength necessary to keep a nation together. If you look at history the Han culture has been very successful in assimilating every other culture it came across. Obviously America’s shallow cultural and political correctness prevents it from being an assimilating power, but should China ever accept a large percentage of immigrants I would like to see a good degree of assimilation lest the country begin to fracture along ethnic lines.

  8. Rhan
    March 30th, 2011 at 21:05 | #8

    @WKL,
    Many Chinese diaspora returned after the established of New China, not sure if they regret with their decision. And today many returned for economy reason, but prefer to continue holding foreign passport. Some of my friends is prepare to have their kids to further study in either Taiwan and China, and let their kids make a decision whether to ‘return’ to China/Taiwan, or to remain as overseas Chinese. Many stay in Taiwan, but there is not much that wants to become a Chinese yet, indicate the confidence remain at not a desirable level, or perhaps due to lifestyle, prospect and too competitive, I think overall, life in China is tough because of huge population.

    @rv,
    You wrote “Why does US need “assimilation”? Because it essentially declares that its Angelo-Saxon Western Europe Protestant tradition is the superior one, to which others must learn to adopt or adapt to, but it does not have to do the reverse.” and Xian wrote “Assimilation is strength necessary to keep a nation together.” I tend to think Xian notion is more valid, and I think that is the belief of most, not necessary have anything to do with superiority, perhaps they lack confidence and insecure?

    @xian
    I am not sure did China, historically, implement any force assimilation, I always have the impression that it is a natural process and that is why both Yuan and Qing were being “assimilated” by the Han culture instead.

  9. jxie
    March 30th, 2011 at 23:06 | #9

    It’s hard to see how when the babies grow up, the benefits will still be there. The US is running $1+ trillion fiscal deficit each year as far as the eye can see, before you even consider that the Social Security Trust Fund basically doesn’t exist. If not for the huge defense spending (all included near $1 trillion each year), the US is actually in decent shape compared to many other developed nations. The vision of American exceptionalism, “New American Century”, “Indispensible Nation” may be megalomaniac, but first and foremost it is fiscally draining.

    Nobody can tell for sure how the world will be like when today’s babies grow up, though everybody is essentially making bets with their choices today — some bets will go right and some will go wrong. As of now, there are more benefits of having an American passport than a Chinese one to most people, for a host of reasons that have been addressed by the comments so far. However, if a Chinese is to find changing to another passport useful, among English speaking nations I would recommend a Canadian or an Australian passport over an American one. Two words: expat tax.

  10. March 31st, 2011 at 05:25 | #10

    Xian, Rhan,

    I would disagree that Han culture was one that “assimilated” others, in the same sense as Western notion of “assimilation”.

    Han Chinese culture is less of a “assimilating” culture, as it is more often in its history a culture that “adopted” to other cultures.

    Consider how many times China has been invaded by “outsiders”, (not merely the ones that succeeded, but also the ones that failed), the once “outside” cultures all had significant impact on the definition of “Han Chinese” culture.

    This is completely different from the Western “assimilation” process, where the “core value” much touted by the West remain essentially unchanged (the laws may have changed, but not the “values”).

    *Western “assimilation” is unsustainable in the long run.

    What China has, is not an “assimilation” process, it is a cultural adaptation process. Even today, Han Chinese culture is redefining itself by learning from the “outside” world.

  11. March 31st, 2011 at 05:54 | #11

    Now, some may argue that Han Chinese culture is essentially the same Confucian value centered system. However, even Confucius has been reinterpeted and altered in interpretation multiple times in Chinese history, with some significant differences.

    And what is the current Chinese culture, but one that has altered the Confucian value system significantly since the early 1900’s?

    *On the strength of “assimilation”, it is not necessarily a strength.

    There is stability in a society with rather unified “culture values”, but that is unrealistic in a long history.

    The more important question is how a society adapts to changes and outside influences.

    Western “assimilation”, based upon Western Exceptionalism, demands that outside forces adopts the Western “way” as part of the “assimilation” process.

    What is “Democratization” but just another way of say “Assimilation to Western ways (by force if necessary)”?

    *China adopts to changes, it always has, through Civil Wars and Conquests by “outsiders”.

    China does not outright copy others, but it learns, and redefine itself over time.

    This is the Chinese way, but not an idea to push onto others.

    China has no need to “save others”, “teach others”, or “civilize others”. To do so is futile.

    The old Chinese saying goes, “For every willing student, there is a willing teacher.” It is not the other way around.

    We cannot make others learn, or make others survive. We can only hope that we ourselves learn enough to survive the changes of history.

  12. xian
    March 31st, 2011 at 06:29 | #12

    @raventhorn2000
    All right, but suffice to say when the Mongols invaded more Han culture passed on than Mongol culture. We’re not using their script, worshiping their Gods, speaking their language, wearing their clothes etc. And I think it’s clear most of China subscribes to the Han culture originating near the Yellow River, and not so much the culture of the southern hill tribes, the Tibetan plateau, the Tarim Basin, etc. It is precisely this shared cultural base that China has maintained a more uniform and continuous identity over the last 5,000 years. Adopt, assimilate.. it’s semantics to me.

    I got no problem if an entire society wants to change, the problem is when only parts of a society want to change, usually to suit their own preferences. If a large percentage of immigrants come to China, they look different, speak different languages, have their own customs etc. there’s bound to be great divides in opinion and politics. Before long you realize you spend all your time arguing and fighting with your own countrymen, much like people of different races do in America. Not to say that any group is better, as everyone acts in their own interests. But a unified nation does require some degree of assimilation. Note I’m speaking within the framework of one’s own country, I do agree that forcing one’s values on other countries should not be tolerated.

  13. March 31st, 2011 at 07:38 | #13

    Xian,

    “All right, but suffice to say when the Mongols invaded more Han culture passed on than Mongol culture. We’re not using their script, worshiping their Gods, speaking their language, wearing their clothes etc.”

    Sure, by sheer numbers, it was entirely probable and foreseeable that MORE Han Chinese culture would exert influence in the merging culture.

    But there was understatement of Mongol influence in China, which was actually substantial.

    Mongol’s new legal code was considerably more flexible than previous Song Chinese code.

    Mongols promoted trade and commerce more, and impacted later Ming’s mentality in increasing trade with peripheral nations like Korea.

    Significantly, Mongol’s favoritism toward Buddhism was indelibly marked in Chinese history as the philosophical war between Buddhism and Daoism. It was the Mongols who backed confiscation of Daoist temples and turning them into Buddhist temples, en masse. Undoubtedly, this substantially impacted the influence of Daoism and Buddhism in China.

    You may say that China “assimilated” Mongol culture, but I do not believe it is the same “assimilate” in the Western sense.

    China’s strength is not that it was able to “force” the Mongols to adopt Chinese ways, but rather Chinese changed/adapted to Mongol’s ways, AND altered some parts of themselves to suit the times, at their own choosing, and not necessarily according to what the Mongols imposed on them.

    In the long run, Chinese became the stronger, flourished while conquered, while Mongols grew weaker and got left behind.

    It didn’t matter whether there was division in Mongol China. Those who shared the adversity of division, and learned to live together, shared the common bond of survival.

    *The problem with Western “assimilation” is that it is like the Mongol version of “forced assimilation”. The Mongols wanted the Chinese to adopt to Mongol ways, and did not see Chinese as having anything useful to contribute (other than labor and taxes).

    But in the long run, history proved the Mongols wrong, and proved the Mongol “assimilation” an exercise in futility.

    *Someone said, China is not a “nation state”, but a “civilization state”. And it is true.

    The idea of China as a nation is based upon its own evolving civilization as the backbone of the Chinese political identity.

    It is cultural, spiritual and politically evolving, and it is diverse within itself, but it cannot be “assimilated”.

    Chinese culture is a true ancient “melting pot”, a true “market place of ideas”, where culture and values are competing and influencing each other, most of the time by sheer numbers, ie. if more people adopt an idea/value, then it has more influence. But that is not ethnic or racial, It is entirely possible that majority of Han Chinese could in 1 day all decide to adopt Christianity, but it’s not likely, because China has so many competing religions in its long history.

    Thus, one can say that China’s “protection” against outside influences, is the fact that China has a long history of so many competing ideas, that even when a new idea arrives, its impact now on China will be very limited.

  14. Charles Liu
    March 31st, 2011 at 09:41 | #14

    Taiwanese have been doing this for a while. I know people who host friends to have children in US, just as favors.

  15. xian
    March 31st, 2011 at 16:59 | #15

    @raventhorn2000
    Well that’s the point, they were overwhelmed by the majority Han culture. Eclectic as that culture may have been, it is the identity that counts. Had there been a lot more Mongols, China could well be divided along cultural lines right now. Had the Dungan/Panthay/Taiping rebellions succeeded, there would be religious divides right now. Surely division causes internal strife on a nation, as Han Chinese peoples have rebelled against Yuan and Qing rule based not solely, but greatly on the fact that they were “foreign rulers”.

    All cultures are influenced by outside forces, but it is China that has kept the strongest, unified underlying culture throughout time – hence a “civilization state”. Melting pot perhaps, but an assimilating melting pot. If you go to Guangdong right now and ask the average person which Yue tribe his ancestors are from, he probably won’t know. Ask him to relate his history and he’ll probably give you Han history. Their identities have been brought in line with the Han people, and that’s what counts. Maybe our definitions of assimilation differ, but IMO natural assimilation is still assimilation. Cultural strength is not shameful, it’s something to be proud of.

  16. April 4th, 2011 at 05:35 | #16

    Xian,

    I don’t think they were “overwhelmed” any more than the Han Chinese were “overwhelmed”.

    We all changed through mutual influence, as we are also influenced by Western Culture in modern times.

    It’s the shared experience of changes that perhaps defines the Han Chinese more than any thing else.

    We had over 4000 years of changes as our history.

    What prompted our past “rebellions” may have been pretexted on “foreign rulers”, but we are as foreign to our own ancestors as perceived “foreign cultures” influences in China.

    I don’t think the Han Chinese “culture” is as “unified as you think.

    I don’t think it is a “culture” that unifies Han Chinese.

    It is “civilization”, a shared memory history of changes between multitudes of sub-cultures.

    “he’ll probably give you Han history”.

    I think it’s a shared history. Perhaps it is what you would call “Han history”, but it is his history as well. His ancestors shared with our ancestor, and (locally, more shared with other Han Chinese than with my ancestors, since my ancestors were never in Guangdong).

    “brought in line with the Han People”?

    I don’t think so. you imply some kind of domination, where it was more a mutual influence. Afterall, the local dialects speaks volumes on the local influences.

    “Natural assimilation” may be, but it still implies too much 1 sided dominance. I doubt that very much.

    You are looking back in history with a hindsight. What we define today as “Han Chinese culture” iss not the same as it was 300 years ago. You can’t say that the “Han Chinese culture” assimilated others, when this “Han Chinese culture” was non-existent in the present form in history.

    Mutual influence defined “Han Chinese culture”. It was the product of mixture of sub-cultures in Chinese history.

    This is not assimilation by any means. This is simple evolution, mixing of genetics and cultures.

    “Assimilation” implies a 1-sided process. You are either “assimilating”, or being “assimilated”.

    Han Chinese is neither. We are products of mixing cultures.

  17. April 4th, 2011 at 06:17 | #17

    Another thing, Xian,

    “Natural mixing” is different in 1 other important aspect from “assimilation”.

    “Natural mixing”, by definition, is not a policy with an intended outcome. It is merely evolution and statistics, which is by nature, unpredictable.

    “Assimilation”, by definition in the West, is a policy with an intended outcome, ie. compel/cajol/force 1 sub-population to adopt the cultural identity of the culture in charge of the government policy.

    *
    “Natural mixing” is also by nature, a very long process, which in itself is very unpredictable.

    If cultures mix through centuries, who is to know/predict what will be the result?

    I don’t think any one in China back in the Yuan dynasty could have predicted what would become as the Ming Dynasty China.

    It is unpredictable, in that population numbers alone does not always determine the outcome. Some cultures are historically very strong, such as the Hebrew culture, which persisted under over 1000 years of discrimination and forced assimilation, despite being a very minority population in Europe.

    *Thus, inherently, the logic is flawed in the policy of “assimilation” in the West, in that it seeks to impose an outcome by artificial means, possibly against what would naturally result from “natural mixing”.

    Part of that policy of “assimilation”, is the fear of “natural mixing” that would result in a culture that is completely different/alien from the Western European tradition, and thus, usually targetting the sub-population groups that are considered most “different”/defiant from the mainstream and giving preferential treatment to “similar” people.

    *Again, the key difference is intended outcome. “Natural mixing” has no intended outcome, because it is unpredictable.

  18. Rhan
    April 4th, 2011 at 19:11 | #18

    rv, xian

    Very interesting and thoughtful writing. My opinion as follow:

    1) I think Qin dynasty did enforce assimilation, they achieved something out of it but can’t stand the test of time, and later on Han learned from such mistake and lean toward ‘natural mixing’.

    2) Assimilation was the prevalent ideology of last century. It seem the West especially USA more incline toward multiculturalism nowadays.

    3) Don’t you think CCP policy toward minority have element of assimilation? For instance, language policy in Tibet.

    4) I sense paradox with regard to assimilation and democracy/authoritarian state. I notice democracy government have the propensity to impose assimilation with aim to control/regulate mind and thought while authoritarian government allows more freedom in this context because they tend to dictate what and how you behave in a physical manner.

  19. xian
    April 4th, 2011 at 19:12 | #19

    @raventhorn2000
    This sounds a lot like the same thing in different words. Every culture is a product of mixing. The bottom line, intended or not, is that 92% of Chinese self-identify as Han. A shared history, identity, culture is already far more unified than a nation with separate histories, identities, and cultures. Of course most Han Chinese today didn’t come from Han ancestors, but the point is we identify together. That is strength. No black or hispanic in the US is ever going to self identify as European. Unpredictable as it may be you can’t deny the fact that is it the language and customs of the Yellow river plains that have come to pervade China, albeit with regional variations.

    Granted there is a difference between forced assimilation and “natural mixing”, but I think it is normal for any people to want to maintain their own customs. If a large percentage of China’s population was made of immigrants today, would you feel all right if it lead to a culture completely alien from what is Chinese tradition today? If anything else, it would cause too much infighting. I think you are too preoccupied with distinguishing the moral aspect from Western “assimilation” when in reality it is a universal phenomenon. China does not go around the world conquering lands and telling people to adopt our ways, but there is no shame in maintaining a unified culture within our borders.

  20. Rhan
    April 4th, 2011 at 21:07 | #20

    xian,

    Any proven fact to substantiate that assimilation leads to less infighting? Is DPP versus KMT portrays infighting? What about CCP versus KMT? All this happen among Han. Don’t you think democracy with multiple party election is actually one of the solution?

    I think assimilation concept is a red herring, unless we have a proper definition what constitute “assimilation”.

  21. xian
    April 4th, 2011 at 23:25 | #21

    @Rhan
    The fact that people will fight over cultural and ethnic differences implies via deduction that there will be less of it if the differences were not so great, i.e. reduced through assimilation. Sure there will be political reasons for infighting, but ethnic and religious issues just add more reasons for conflict. I don’t see how multi-party democracy is a solution, if anything it seems to have only institutionalized base divides in countries like the US or India.

  22. April 5th, 2011 at 06:02 | #22

    Xian,

    “The bottom line, intended or not, is that 92% of Chinese self-identify as Han.”

    That may be a happy coincidence, since China is the ONLY ancient civilization to survive to the current day, and that survival required significant change.

    And you have to define what you mean by “92% of Chinese self-identify as Han”, because CURRENT self-identity of “Han” is not the same as it was only 2 centuries ago. Self-perception of a unity does not make it true from the beginning, nor the unity as the same unity perceived before.

    *”Granted there is a difference between forced assimilation and “natural mixing”, but I think it is normal for any people to want to maintain their own customs.”

    No doubt, I’m all for people maintaining their own customs. But I do not condone a government policy to “assimilate” people.

    “If a large percentage of China’s population was made of immigrants today, would you feel all right if it lead to a culture completely alien from what is Chinese tradition today?”

    That has happened before to China many many times, and we Han Chinese are the result of those “immigrants” into China, such as Tang Dynasty Royal family, who were half-Turkish.

    Who are we today to say which part of Han Chinese culture TODAY was or was not alien centuries ago?

    Who are we today to say that some “immigrant” culture, perhaps from the West or from Japan or Korea, will not become an essential part of “Han Chinese” civilization in another 2 centuries?

    I do not presume to predict the future, thus, I pass no judgment on the “value” of some other “culture”.

    That’s part of the problem with Western “assimilation”, that it PRESUMES “value” in some culture, and PRESUMES no “value” in others. Well, if you play that game, sooner or later, you will PRESUME incorrectly, and your civilization will go down the wrong path. (You can see similar examples in selective breeding in crops, ie. Irish Potato famine, where selective breeding led to a single strain of potato that was productive but prone to a specific disease, and similarly, the 1960 US fava beans crop disease).

    “Assimilation” is inherently dangerous, because it plays the selective artificial molding of a “future” culture, based upon pressumptions of “values”.

    *”If anything else, it would cause too much infighting.”

    Han Chinese people are highly diverse, and we already infight too much because of our diversity. Policies are in place to keep the chaos down. There is no need to demand uniformity (or some degree of uniformity) of “culture”, that is totally artificial and rather unscientific. How much uniformity of “culture” would be considered enough?? (In theory, we will always have infighting, unless we are all clones of each other, and have total mental telepathic connections, and some giant mega-mind to dominate our every thought. But that would be ridiculous).

    *”I think you are too preoccupied with distinguishing the moral aspect from Western “assimilation” when in reality it is a universal phenomenon. China does not go around the world conquering lands and telling people to adopt our ways, but there is no shame in maintaining a unified culture within our borders.”

    I think you overstate Chinese “unified culture”. History of Mixing is sufficient to demonstrate that Han Chinese were never that “unified”, it was always a “work in progress”.

    Add something new, Mix, Heat, Repeat. It is the simple secret of all great recipes, cooking, or civilizations.

    there is no “maintaining” a unified culture, because precisely it is a natural mixing. No one is “maintaining” the uniformity, we each maintain our own version of the perceived culture, but it is hardly uniform.

    You maintain your version, I maintain my version. And we share some portions in our versions. And my wife and I each pass down some portions to our kids. (and if my wife is a non-Chinese, well, there will be some of hers in the future Chinese civilization probably).

    *I think some Chinese perceive too much uniformity in Chinese civilization. And that is merely perception. I know I’m also part non-Han Chinese. And though I do not remember much from that side of the family, I know that I carry some portion of that culture. Some may identify that portion of me as “Han Chinese” by mistake, but I know it was not from my “Han Chinese” family side.

    “Values” of “cultures” are inherently subtle in distinctions. One cannot generically identify some into a large group as “Han Chinese”. It is simply irrational.

  23. April 5th, 2011 at 06:22 | #23

    Rhan,

    1) I think Qin dynasty did enforce assimilation, they achieved something out of it but can’t stand the test of time, and later on Han learned from such mistake and lean toward ‘natural mixing’.

    >I think Han Chinese civilization always had a “live and let live” kind of philosophy in dealing with outsiders or “barbarians”. Confucius implied a social habit of leaving “outsiders” alone to their own ways. It is completely opposite of the active Western “assimilation” process. Confucian doctrine almost had a deliberate slow consciousness of letting “mixing” happen naturally.

    Realizing that people define “civilization” differently, it is easy to see the logic in Confucius. That artificial and hurried “mixing” can bring about greater chaos than “natural mixing”.

    2) Assimilation was the prevalent ideology of last century. It seem the West especially USA more incline toward multiculturalism nowadays.

    I agree, and I think this is dangerous. I would also distinguish Confucius’ “natural mixing” from “segregation”. I do not believe “natural mixing” means artificially imposing any policies to prevent “mixing”. I think “Segregation” was in fact another form of “assimilation”. It is to force the minority population apart, so that the “assimilation” process could be done in some controlled manner.

    Segregation is in fact, also contrary to natural mixing.

    3) Don’t you think CCP policy toward minority have element of assimilation? For instance, language policy in Tibet.

    I do not believe so. Tibetan language policy is far better than minority language policies in US. In all minority ethnic autonomous regions in China, teachers are trained and paid by the Chinese government, as aid to the rural area and preferential treatment for the minorities.

    All these government trained and paid teachers are REQUIRED to learn BOTH Mandarin and a local ethnic Language! (You won’t find that in US any where).

    In Tibet, the complaint was that students were required to wear school uniforms (which were not Tibetan ethnic clothing), and that there was not enough Tibetan language classes.

    But realizing that in 1950, 95% of Tibetans were actually completely illiterate, no knowledge of any written language, One can hardly complain that Today, there is “not enough” Tibetan language classes.

    The perception that somehow Tibetan language and culture is under attack by the CCP is simply ridiculous. Study of Tibetan language and culture is in many Chinese universities. (Granted, the Cultural Revolution destroyed much in many parts of China, but that was across the board against all cultures, not merely targetting any specific group).

    4) I sense paradox with regard to assimilation and democracy/authoritarian state. I notice democracy government have the propensity to impose assimilation with aim to control/regulate mind and thought while authoritarian government allows more freedom in this context because they tend to dictate what and how you behave in a physical manner.

    I agree it is a paradox.

    “Rule of Law” would actually imply that one should only pass laws/policies to regulate Physical behavior, and not thoughts/beliefs.

    Yet, Western Democracies often attempt to regulate thoughts, and now euphorically called “values”.

    I think Western history is coming to a full circle, and passing in the waning era of scientific governance and rational policies, into a new era of doctrinal morality based upon Western European Judeo-Christian traditions.

    And they may inspire “democracies” in other parts of the world, but they may find soon enough that those “democracies” do not necessarily have the same “values” as the West imagined.

    They merely inspired others to formulate their own version of doctrinal morality based upon their own traditions.

    *Assimilation will inevitably lead to reactions and reverse assimilations.

  24. xian
    April 5th, 2011 at 07:26 | #24

    @raventhorn2000
    China is the only ancient civilization to survive until modern times because of an underlying cultural identity. That is what counts, the identity. Sure a Han person 2000 years ago probably isn’t the same as one today, but they both self identify the same. This “work in progress” has turned out well for us because one strong culture arched over most others. If not, we could well be like India right now, different customs, religions, language, history split dozens of ways. Their fractured, ineffective politics reflects this division.

    You are imagining that immigrants will automatically become Han, that is the crux of the argument. Yes, foreigners have eventually become Han over time, via assimilation, outbreeding or whichever equivalent term you have. The problem is, what if they don’t? If Gokturks immigrated into China circa Tang dynasty in huge numbers, a good portion of MODERN Chinese may self identify as Turkic, not Han. Inevitably this will have a polarizing effect on the population. I disagree outright that uniformity is unnecessary. Yes, there is diversity and infighting within Han Chinese, but the extra ethnic division will just add even more reasons to bicker over. If anything else remember there are hateful people in any group. The more groups there are, the more potential for hate to erupt. Irrational they may be, but very real they are. You can argue that culture is too abstract to be compartmentalized into a simple identity, yet this is exactly what people do. Most humans see a foreign immigrant as a foreigner, and vice versa. This mere mindset that separates one from another will cause conflict at some point. I realize this viewpoint is not politically correct, but that’s what reality is like.

    If you are searching for moral high ground over the West, we already have it. China has not thrust its ways upon the world in a legacy of colonialism, there is simply no need to bend over backwards in our own country.

  25. April 5th, 2011 at 08:02 | #25

    “China is the only ancient civilization to survive until modern times because of an underlying cultural identity. That is what counts, the identity.”

    Of course, it is identity. But Identity is not the same thing as “culture”, it is merely a label you slap on yourself.

    “You are imagining that immigrants will automatically become Han, that is the crux of the argument.”

    Only if you don’t play the “identity” card too hard. People sometimes don’t want to be identified as a specific any thing.

    If “Han Chinese” is less an “identity” than an idea of civilization, then perhaps people will identify WITH (or share) the civilization, and not AS its uniformity.

    “The problem is, what if they don’t? If Gokturks immigrated into China circa Tang dynasty in huge numbers, a good portion of MODERN Chinese may self identify as Turkic, not Han.”

    Define huge numbers. (1) historically, it was pretty huge numbers, enough to impact the local power dynamics of Noble families in China. That can’t be some small numbers of immigrants. (2) any more huge, you would have to be talking about wholesale migration of an entire nation into another, and that simply and probabilistically, will not likely happen in any case. (3) We identify ourselves as “Han”, when “Han” didn’t even exist 4000 years ago, because we adopted some ways from some tribes that was in China. Who cares what people call that “identity”?? The Yellow Emperor did not call himself “Han”, do you think he worried about what his descendants will call themselves in 1000’s of years later?

    “Inevitably this will have a polarizing effect on the population. I disagree outright that uniformity is unnecessary. Yes, there is diversity and infighting within Han Chinese, but the extra ethnic division will just add even more reasons to bicker over.”

    Enforcing uniformity (artificial sense of identity of uniformity) may cause more chaos and division, precisely because no one can rationally come up with what was/is “Han”.
    What if someone tells you that your version of “Han” identity is fake, and that it could be traced back to the Mongols, and required you to conform to the more correct version of “Han” identity?

    Or what if some Uighur person says he is “Han”, and his practices of culture is the true “Han” culture?

    You think “uniformity of identity” would NOT cause divisions? On the contrary, it will only entice many to usurp the idea of “uniformity” for their own purposes to persecute others.

    “If anything else remember there are hateful people in any group. The more groups there are, the more potential for hate to erupt. ”

    No doubt, as I just said above, hateful people will even use the idea of “uniformity of identity” for their own purposes. Hitler for example.

    “You can argue that culture is too abstract to be compartmentalized into a simple identity, yet this is exactly what people do.”

    I do not attempt to compartmentalize people, and I don’t care what they compartmentalize on their own time. I merely say that this irrational abstract practice has no place in government policies.

    “If you are searching for moral high ground over the West, we already have it. China has not thrust its ways upon the world in a legacy of colonialism, there is simply no need to bend over backwards in our own country.”

    No one is bending backwards.

    In fact, it is the opposite. Without a policy of “assimilation”, there would be no need to enforce some artificial means of “diversity by non-discrimination”, or artificial “multi-racialism/multi-culturalism”, as some silly indicators of political correct equality.

    “Natural mixing” is completely non-discriminatory, because it is unpredictable. People can preserve their own culture on their own, no need for Government to waste time arguing about “values”.

    *Thus, Pragmatism and rationalism demand that we do not participate in this moral argument of “values” with the West. Cultures are private matters, not government matters.

    Those who argue for government intervention in “uniformity” or “diversity” are merely setting their governments to meddle uselessly in things they cannot control.

  26. xian
    April 5th, 2011 at 11:03 | #26

    But you see, it is precisely by maintaining a degree of uniformity that avoids the need to enforce it in unacceptable ways to begin with. Do you deny that culture plays a huge role in identity? I’ve never met a person who didn’t identify themselves with some culture or ethnicity. I do believe governments have a huge role to play when it comes to cultural relations. They could force Tibetans to adopt Chinese ways, or let them live by their own customs. They could open the floodgates for immigration, or they could seal it off entirely. Let me posit a scenario in the future when, if China maintains its current one child policy, begins to suffer from an aging and declining population. In 30 or so years, India’s population will surpass China. To make up for labor shortage, mass amounts of Indians pour through the border seeking a better life. Do you foresee no resentment amongst the locals? No ethnic conflicts?

    Understand that bigotry and resistance is just as much a part of “natural mixing” as tolerance and acceptance. It is the former outcome which creates unnecessary conflict, and that outcome is unavoidable on some degree. It’s not moral, or even logical, but it happens.

    In my mind assimilation is the process through which one group becomes congruous with a larger, native group via intentional means or otherwise. Your definition seems to be one where governments impose a policy of force. Perhaps we are arguing about different things?

  27. Rhan
    April 5th, 2011 at 17:52 | #27

    @xian

    “Sure there will be political reasons for infighting, but ethnic and religious issues just add more reasons for conflict.”

    No way we could “assimilate” ethnic and religion, and hence my reason for your following comment.

    “I don’t see how multi-party democracy is a solution,”

    Channel the “infighting” into election, it may helps to alleviate tension, riot and so on.

  28. Rhan
    April 5th, 2011 at 21:37 | #28

    @rv

    Well said, being a minority from a multi-racial country, i utterly reject any “assimilation” policy. All this while, I have problem to rationalize my stance base on some coherent thesis but it seem your theory worth further exploit. However, I also want to see things from the majority perspective, xian argument is one of the typical and best illustrations. We tend to argue base on whom we are rather than the subject, as long as I am the minority, I reject assimilation but I would support such policy if I am the majority.

    That said, China, Tibet and USA have very diverse history pertaining to core values and norm.

    China – Han is the indigenous, what is their policy on assimilation and integration toward minority (indigenous as well) and new immigrant (if there is)?

    Tibet – Tibetan is the indigenous, I suppose they have every right to preserve their own culture and values. Can they refuse to learn Putonghua?

    USA – Most US citizen come from somewhere else but seem to uphold WASP values, though some call it melting pot. Do they have rights to impose their values into others? Or they never did that, it is actually a ‘natural mixing’ as well?

  29. xian
    April 6th, 2011 at 00:07 | #29

    @Rhan
    I am a minority in a minority-majority city, and I’d reject any attempts at being assimilated through force or ‘natural’ means’. I wouldn’t blame them for trying though. You can argue that democracy will channel tensions into elections, but where I stand it just gives every faction a platform to openly fight from.

  30. April 6th, 2011 at 12:16 | #30

    Xian,

    “Do you deny that culture plays a huge role in identity? I’ve never met a person who didn’t identify themselves with some culture or ethnicity.”

    Identifying “with” some culture is not the same thing as maintaining that culture, or what is perceived as that culture. It is merely propagating your own perception of that culture, your own version. Who is to say what you have done with that culture? Would you let someone else say that your “identification” is not good enough for their “uniformity”? I don’t think so.

    “I do believe governments have a huge role to play when it comes to cultural relations. They could force Tibetans to adopt Chinese ways, or let them live by their own customs. They could open the floodgates for immigration, or they could seal it off entirely. Let me posit a scenario in the future when, if China maintains its current one child policy, begins to suffer from an aging and declining population. In 30 or so years, India’s population will surpass China. To make up for labor shortage, mass amounts of Indians pour through the border seeking a better life. Do you foresee no resentment amongst the locals? No ethnic conflicts?”

    I hope Chinese people are more enlightened than that. But if history is any indication, I would say no. There are some key reasons behind that.

    1 historical example, China is the ONLY ancient civilization that did not have any history of anti-Semitism. During the Song Dynasty, the Chinese Emperor granted petitions of citizenship to Jewish traders who came to China on the Silk Road, for them to settle in China. They became known as the “Kaifung Jews”.

    The reason the Emperor gave, was that he, like other Chinese, Respected the Jewish people for upholding the traditions of their ancestors, as expected for virtuous Chinese.

    That, typified the Confucian Chinese core, not only respecting one’s own ancestors and traditions, but respecting other people’s upholding of their own ancestors and traditions.

    As you can see from this kind of examples, it is this key difference in Confucian Chinese civilization that departs from what is the Western notion of “assimilation”.

    *And by not fearing other people’s upholding of their own traditions, the Chinese civilization demonstrated repeatedly its own confidence and ability to adapt, change, and survive.

    Of course, the Song Emperor could have easily, within his power, to force the Jewish traders and other traders, to adopt Chinese ways, or force them to settle in some isolated corner of China far away from the cities, or number of other things to “assimilate” them.

    But he did not.

    Was this some extraordinary generosity? Or was this a default mindset that permeated Chinese civilization through out its entire history? I say it is the later.

  31. April 6th, 2011 at 12:36 | #31

    Rhan,

    “China – Han is the indigenous, what is their policy on assimilation and integration toward minority (indigenous as well) and new immigrant (if there is)?”

    I don’t see much Chinese policies on “assimilation” or integration. (unless you count the mere fact that China has 1 official language, but that’s arguable as integration policy).

    The official policy toward the “minorities” and “immigrants” is to help them adjust if necessary, but otherwise leave them alone to do what they wish. (There are a lot of pockets of immigrant populations in China, unofficial Korean towns, Japan Towns, etc., just where the immigrants choose to congregate or invest or purchase homes).

    Minorities in China get a lot of stipends and aids. Unfortunately, and realistically, minority traditions are difficult to maintain (in China and everywhere else). A Mongolian or a Manchurian can’t expect to survive on “hunting” in the modern Era. Even Mongolians in Mongolia must supplement their incomes via Tourism money nowadays. Similarly, many minority groups in China supplement their incomes via tourism, and it helps maintaining their culture. (even if some say it cheapens and commercializes their traditions).

    “Tibet – Tibetan is the indigenous, I suppose they have every right to preserve their own culture and values. Can they refuse to learn Putonghua?”

    Tibetans are actually not indigenous to “Tibet”, They are off shoot of Mongolian nomads who migrated into “Tibet”. The Indigenous population of “Tibet” called called “proto-Tibetans”, who existed in Kingdoms that were conquered by the “Tibetans”.

    Some Tibetans probably do refuse to learn Putonghua, but they won’t have much to gripe about that the Chinese government won’t help them much. If they want to learn just Tibetan language, they can find their own teachers on their own time. No one will force them to go to school to learn Putonghua. (but just don’t complain when they get failing grades in Chinese in school. That’s what one would expect).

    *USA – Most US citizen come from somewhere else but seem to uphold WASP values, though some call it melting pot. Do they have rights to impose their values into others? Or they never did that, it is actually a ‘natural mixing’ as well?”

    I don’t think “melting pot” in US is a “natural mixing”.

    Indeed, “melting pot” is a PR gimick that does not reflect reality.

    An Americanized Chinese “fusion” restaurant is not “melting” anything real from China into US society. (nothing in the “value” any way).

    It’s all superficial “melting”. and in terms of real core “values”, the society is very much still divided by “values”, and glaringly, when the “values” come into conflict.

    It is a futile pretense that US sets in policy to attempt to “melt”, and maintain “diversity”, and talk about “core values”. It sets into conflicting goals that cannot possibly be compromised via such artificial policies at every turn.

  32. xian
    April 6th, 2011 at 15:05 | #32

    @raventhorn2000
    I think its more likely some minorities were left alone because they weren’t numerous enough to cause resentment amongst the majority. People will react very differently if 1 out 3 persons was a Kaifeng Jew. We live in a global world now, where the entire planet is subject to emigration, including peoples far more different from the average Chinese person than our historical neighboring immigrants.

    Even if culture varies over time and differs inside the mind of every individual, people will group themselves together under those headings. That’s what matters, separate camps lead to eventual disagreement. I think you are going to far to distinguish what is Western and what is Chinese, when IMO all humans act more or less the same way under similar conditions. We need to prepare for that eventuality instead of telling ourselves we have some special cultural property that overrides human nature. If you really believe that without assimilation (or whichever term your prefer), large demographic changes in China will be happily tolerated and cause no problematic divides, then our disagreement is fundamental, and I won’t push it any further.

  33. April 7th, 2011 at 05:49 | #33

    Xian,

    “I think its more likely some minorities were left alone because they weren’t numerous enough to cause resentment amongst the majority.”

    Perhaps (but I would tend to disagree). But in the West, if small minorities are subjected to the “assimilation” policy.

    I would disagree with this asserted theory of yours, because in the West, the opposite effect is seen, (where a small minority is more helpless to act politically in their interests, they are often trampled upon. And a larger minority is more likely to gain acceptance because of their larger political influence).

    Logically, the people in a majority would more likely pick on the smallest weakest minority group with the biggest divergence from the majority. (For example, Chinese immigrants in early US days were very heavily targetted for racial hate crimes, even though they did not publicly “stick out”).

    Equally logically, if a minority grow to a substantial critical mass, then they become more mainstream, and their cultural influences would already be more deeply ingrained into the majority, and would be consequentially more understood and more accepted.

    (Compare, for example, Chinese in Indonesia are a small minority 3-4% heavily persecuted, whereas Chinese in Malaysia are a larger minority 23% and better accepted and more tolerated.)

  34. Rhan
    April 7th, 2011 at 09:22 | #34

    @xian,

    Unlike you, I condemn any form of “assimilation” (any policy that forbid my rights to continue learning my language and practice my custom). I have great doubt that assimilation policy would make a country stronger. That said, I think every nation is unique and some will be more successful than others pertaining to assimilation, however, I am not sure does uniformity result from assimilation is the underlying factor of strength.

    @rv

    I think history, ethnic/race ratio, religion, vigorous of culture and economy strength would influence the extent of assimilation. I don’t think a weaker culture could assimilate a culture that is with longer history and more advance.

    Chinese Indonesian never escape the fate of being slaughter though they don’t even know how to write and read their own Chinese name, while Thailand Chinese seem assimilated well into Siam society most probably because Thailand is a Buddhist country. However if we compare both against Malaysia that never embark on any assimilation process, I would think that Malaysia have less political tussle, infighting and riot, and Singapore did much more better in this regard. And surprisingly, the leaders of the very open society that uphold democracy, Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy all seem to agree that multiculturalism is dead. To them, assimilation is the only way. The amusing part is that they (except German) can’t even solve their own racial issue at home but now are thick face enough to ‘help’ the Muslim in Africa and Middle East.

    Overall, I would say Chinese culture allow Chinese to “assimilate” others and “assimilated” by others much easier with less conflict, hence I think your notion of “natural mixing” do make sense.

  35. April 8th, 2011 at 06:17 | #35

    “I think history, ethnic/race ratio, religion, vigorous of culture and economy strength would influence the extent of assimilation. I don’t think a weaker culture could assimilate a culture that is with longer history and more advance. ”

    I agree, but I think strength of a culture is difficult to define.

    It is like genetics, some genetic “weaknesses” are sometimes strengths.

    For example, some humans are carriers of sickle cell anemia genes, but this gene evolved out as a natural defense against malaria disease.

    “And surprisingly, the leaders of the very open society that uphold democracy, Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy all seem to agree that multiculturalism is dead. To them, assimilation is the only way.”

    I’m not surprised. “Multiculturalism” was nothing more than a catch phrase slogan, while their real intent all along was the continuation of the “assimilation” policy. (Note, they never dropped “assimilation” for one minute. Now, it’s just getting louder and more justified in the Western mentality).

    I would not go so far as to say that “openness”, “fairness”, “rule of law” in the West are farce, but they are far less reality than the stark reality of Western “assimilation” policies.

    “Overall, I would say Chinese culture allow Chinese to “assimilate” others and “assimilated” by others much easier with less conflict, hence I think your notion of “natural mixing” do make sense.”

    I add 1 more point: Natural mixing is all about the real “market place of ideas/culture/values”, which is the real Freedom of Speech.

    Speech is not just about what people can write or say, but what they can believe and value.

    When there is a governmental policy of picking choosing “values”, it is not only regulating Freedom of Speech, it is propagandizing “values”.

  36. April 8th, 2011 at 06:59 | #36

    One more thing:

    It is often understated that the pace of “mixing” is a very important historical factor that determined the outcome of “mixing”.

    Western historians often view China simplistically as paralleling logic to Western history. One of such parallel is in terms of “mixing”.

    Western history is segmented with historical segments of rapid expansions/assimilations, then followed by periods of decline.

    Chinese history however, is very different.

    China did expand, but the pace of Chinese expansion was very VERY slow by comparison, but also much more steady.

    One Western historian remarked correctly, that Han China pretty much occupied the same region of territory ever since 2000 years ago.

    Considering that the cradle of Chinese civilization is the plain region between the Yellow River and the Long River, and in 4000 years of history, there have only been very modest territorial expansion from that “original territory” to what is currently PRC territory. But it is very steady growth.

    Even though there have been civil wars, the regions invariably unite.

    The explanation of Chinese historical pattern of slow expansion and inevitable unity, is its “natural mixing” philosophical core.

    “Sinicization” as a natural process, was allowed to occur naturally in the populations of China and surrounding regions, as a natural process of mutual influences.

    *
    One can draw a parallel to what is perhaps happening today in Singapore, which is now a majority ethnic Chinese nation outside of China.

    Singapore has a natural mix of several ethnic cultures, and yet it also closely identifies WITH Chinese civilization, but does not call itself “Han Chinese”. Nor is there in Singapore a preferential policy of “integration”/assimilation, it does have a policy of aiding minority ethnic groups, just like China.

    It is small in territory, and thus it may mix more rapidly than some other regions.

    It is entirely possible, that Singapore eventually might influence China’s policies, and may become one of the 1st member nations of a “League Sinica” in the region. (Singapore already play a major role as often a mediator between PRC and ROC. And if PRC and ROC someday negotiate a settlement of a “Chinese Confederacy”, it may become the basis for a “League Sinica”).

    *Just remember, I coined the phrase “League Sinica”.

    🙂

  37. jxie
    April 11th, 2011 at 08:18 | #37

    Rv, xian & Rhan, very interesting discussion.

    Rv, instead of seeing all these in black (Western) and white (Chinese), it’s probably better off presenting them in different shades of gray. Otherwise all one needs is to present a case counter your theory, your theory will crumble.

    For example, in early Ming, as an imperial discreet, Huis were forced to marry Hans. Vast majority of the Huis descended from Central Asians and Middle Easterners with Islamic faith who were brought in by the Mongol overlords in Yuan. In early Ming, many of them still had the distinctive non-Han looks. But with the “forced assimilation”, today’s Huis by and large look like Hans. It will be a much longer conversation if we further explore the differences and the process of such “forced assimilation”. For instance, Huis got to keep their religion, and they were treated mostly like equals instead of second-class citizens to outright slaves.

    Compared to Tang/Song, Ming treated even Hans far worse. Ming started 文字狱, for however short duration compared to Qing. In Song, there was at least an occasion some ministers who conspired to demote the emperor and promote a prince, which was like treason in those days, merely got sent off to today’s Guangdong. During the Medieval Warming Period, Guangdong might be a hellish place to live… But in Ming their whole families would be beheaded for writing the wrong stuffs that might have a hint of treason, let alone acting on them.

    My take is that it’s due to how Ming was founded: they fought some brutal wars to free themselves from the Mongol oppressive rule. They felt like they had to act less Confucians-like to maintain their own survival. The “weak” way Song treated others and themselves, was how they were annihilated. A relevant story today is how popular the book “Wolf Totem” is, which gives me a chill. Song lost because of Mongol’s superior military technologies: cavalry, archery and finally the techniques to penetrate the thick walls of Song fortresses they learned from the Arabs after they controlled the bulk of the Eurasia, not because of how Song was governed and if they treated each other too kindly. I would rather see China to model after Song but with a predilection of maintaining a strong military, than Ming, or heaven forbids, Yuan/Qing.

  38. jxie
    April 11th, 2011 at 08:46 | #38

    discreet => decree.

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