Inner Mongolia: Land ethnic, religious harmony
Home >> News

Inner Mongolia: Land ethnic, religious harmony

Updated: 2015-07-03 14:09:03

( By Andrew Ancheta )

Share on

When I joined the 3rd Cultural Tour, I made a point of examining the conditions of local ethnic groups. Few foreigners, myself included, know much about the 55 ethnic minority groups which comprise one in 10 Chinese people, or about their "self-governing" areas within China.
Although Mongolians are actually a minority in the autonomous region, they still have a privileged position in the region's affairs. By law, the region's government must be led by an ethnic Mongolian. All signs are bilingual, written in both Chinese and Mongolian characters. Our translator, herself a Mongolian, added that students from the Mongolian or any other minority get bonus points in college entrance exams, to offset any educational disadvantages. The students also benefit from government subsidies and stipends to guarantee a full education. That sounded somewhat better than mere paper autonomy, I had to admit.
Then there was the matter of religion. Many religions share the region; on my first afternoon I spotted several mosques, temples and a church. But there was no sign of intercommunal hatred. I later learned that this was actually a legacy of Mongol rule: rather than playing favorites, the Khans hedged their bets by treating all religions equally. In a time of religious war in Europe, Marco Polo remarked with admiration on the Khan's relative tolerance.
I asked Zhao Xinmin, a functionary of Inner Mongolia's Culture Department, about the situation of ethnic minorities. "The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was set up in 1947, two years before the People's Republic of China," he said. "Over the 70 years of its existence, the Central Committee of the Communist Party has given the greatest support for Inner Mongolia's economic, social and cultural development," he added. "The central government heavily funds environmental and grasslands protection measures and local culture."
"I have noticed that there is a lot of cultural diversity in China," said Sulaiman Rabiu, representing the Nigerian Embassy, at a concluding meeting with officials of the autonomous region. "The government has tried to promote and preserve the culture of minority groups." He concluded by probing the possibility of further cultural exchange between China and Nigeria. Many other visitors shared their admiration for China's system of ethnic autonomy.
Editor's Pick
Hot words
Most Popular