China, like the US, is a very diverse. Sure, both countries have a majority group but if you started counting the number of other groups, you would be there for a long time.
In China, there are some 56 different ethnic groups, and therefore 55 different minority groups, not counting foreigners like myself. In the United States, there are over 500 different federally recognized Native American tribes alone, the most numerous being the Cherokee and the Navajo.
But how the two countries organize their different minority groups is something that is radically different in the two countries.
Imagine if, in the US, the Cherokee and Navajo nations each had their own State, or if there was a German American State or an Italian American State, and you have the situation that exists in China.
China is mostly divided into provinces, but the areas of the country that belong to a particular ethnic group are called Autonomous Regions. There’s the Tibet Autonomous Region for Tibetans in Tibet and there’s the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region for Ethnic Mongolians in Inner Mongolia.
There are five ARs overall, meaning that five of the 55 different minority groups have their own areas of the country, equivalent to States in the US, where, for example, their own languages are co-official with Mandarin Chinese.
A map of China’s main Ethnolinguistic Groups
A Map of China’s Autonomous Regions
Would the Chinese Model Work in the U.S?
I’ve long believed that at least one Native American Reservation in the US should be given Statehood – it makes no sense that the Native Americans, America’s first inhabitants, don’t have their own statehood whereas Californians and North Carolinians do.
It makes no sense that not a single Native American nation is represented in the Senate in the way that California or New Jersey are. It also makes no sense that many Native American Reservations, like the Navajo Nation, have State boundaries running across them.
The Navajo Nation’s Reservation is divided between three different states. Time to change this.
It’s high time to make the Navajo Nation a state in it’s own right – and make it America’s first ‘Indian State.’ It would send a message to the world that America’s Indigenous people are not a conquered people to be left on the margins but full on members of the American Union just as Californians or New Jersey-ites are.
But what about a state for German Americans, would that work?
German Americans by US State and Canadian Province
German Americans, like most immigrant groups, are fairly widely dispersed throughout the US, and there is no state where German Americans are an actual majority. Furthermore, most no longer speak German and now only speak English.
But that doesn’t matter. In China, of the five A.Rs, in only one, Tibet, is the Titular Ethnic Group still in the majority. In the Inner Mongolian A.R, only 17% of the population is ethnically Mongol, with more than 70% being Han Chinese. But that doesn’t stop Mongolian from being co-official with Chinese or do anything to revoke Inner Mongolia’s A.R status.
Similarly, only one in five ethnic Hui actually live in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, where they are only a third of the population there.
So why, when 46% of the population of North Dakota is German American, can’t we do likewise, and make it America’s German State? Why not make German co-official there so that there can be German Medium Public schools (alongside English ones of course) and so forth?
It would be a fine tribute to the many different ethnic groups that made America what it is today and allow countless Americans to rediscover their heritage.