Accommodation, assimilation, and regime legitimacy
Kwon, Jun Taek
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This study intends to explore a fundamental question about the relationship between the state and minority nationalities by studying the Chinese case: national integration. This study documents the evolution of the minority policies of China since 1949. What it observes is that minority policies in China has alternated between accommodation and assimilation aimed at achieving the goal of national integration. This study proposes regime legitimacy as an independent variable in an effort to provide a convincing explanation to the question of the minority policy alternation. As the paradigm of political development advanced by Han S. Park proposes, political development of China can be examined by being broken into three stages: regime formation (1949-1957), political integration (1958-1976), and resource expansion (1978 to the present). The basis of regime legitimacy in China subsequently has shifted as the political system undergoes a transition through these three stages: performance basis (1949-1957), ideology basis (1958-1976), and the return of performance basis (1978 to the present). Based on the above observation, this study concludes that the CCP’s minority policies have evolved within the larger context of political development that has taken place in the last six decades. And more specifically, the CCP’s minority policies have been directly linked to its strategies to establish and cultivate regime legitimacy. When performance basis is predominantly pursued to generate regime legitimacy, national differences are accommodated. When an ideology basis is massively utilized to cultivate regime legitimacy, the CCP radically promotes assimilation of minorities into the majority for national convergence.