Ethnic nationalist challenge to multi-ethnic state : Inner Mongolia and China
This thesis examines the resurgence of Mongolian nationalism since the onset of the reforms in China in 1979 and the impact of this resurgence on the legitimacy of the Chinese state. The period of reform has witnessed the revival of nationalist sentiments not only of the Mongols, but also of the Han Chinese (and other national minorities). This development has given rise to two related issues: first, what accounts for the resurgence itself; and second, does it challenge the basis of China's national identity and of the legitimacy of the state as these concepts have previously been understood. During the period under examination (1979- 1993), an important shift in the basis of the legitimization of the Chinese State occurred. This shift paralleled the decline in significance of the Communist ideology both in China and worldwide and the corresponding rise of Chinese nationalism officially designated as patriotism (ai guo zhu yi). These developments have shaped the re-emergence of Mongolian nationalism in China, which in turn challenges aspects of the basis of China's statehood. In order to chart the complex inter-relationship between the Mongols and the Chinese state, it is necessary to adopt an historical perspective. The history of Mongolian self-rule, the struggle for autonomy, and the titular regional autonomy are reviewed to show that the resurgence of Mongolian nationalism is closely linked to the deterioration of the political and economic situation of Mongols in China. During the period of reform, the political ideal of a socialist nation that had unified ethnic and non-ethnic Chinese in the early years of the People's Republic was weakened. In opposition to the ideal of socialist unity, the traditional view of the identity of the Chinese nation that stresses cultural, ethnic, and historical ties has been strengthened. These developments have weakened the authority that the Chinese government exercise over what the Chinese call "national minorities" (shao shu min zu). This weakening of authority may be seen as an example of the problem that arises when the power of coercion replaces political authority. In terms of foreign relations, Mongolian nationalism has complicated important dimensions for China's relations with other countries of northeast Asia, especially in the post-cold war era. Moreover, the increasing nationalistic basis on which the identity of Chinese people is based, together with the problems this raises in regard to Hong Kong and Taiwan, have profound implications for the international identity of the Chinese state. Consequently, the way in which Chinese "national minorities" have emerged as a problem within China also has clear international implications. In conclusion, this thesis suggests that the rise of Inner Mongolian nationalism threatens to undermine the concept of an unitary Chinese nation (for example in the guise of a supposed Chinese family). As a result, Mongolian nationalism weakens the basis of Chinese statehood as presently conceived. Furthermore, the challenge of non-Chinese nationalism to Chinese statehood suggests the problems of nationalism as state legitimisation in general.