The Han ethnic group represents 92% of the total Chinese population. That is more than 1.4 billion people, almost one-fifth of the world’s population.
The Han have always been the majority in the territory we know today as the Republic of China. They also ruled dynasty after dynasty, except for the Qing and Yuang years, which the Manchus and Mongols led.
The Han Chinese have mainly driven the incredible traditional Chinese culture. However, minorities coexisted during the various dynasties, often playing key roles in developing the great Chinese empire and its customs.
Despite being strong defenders of their culture and territory, the Han have been very open to the various ethnic groups approaching China since ancient times.
Especially since the emergence of the Silk Road, there have been countless records of foreigners from neighboring and far-flung ethnic groups interacting peacefully with the Han Chinese, promoting mutual trade, and exchanging production techniques, technologies, and raw materials.
Even many members of minority ethnic groups were part of the Court of dynasties led by the Han, which shows the acceptance of these and the tolerance to diversity that prevailed in the traditional Chinese culture.
The origin of the so-called Han ethnic group is generally attributed to the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.), recognized for creating its own cultural identity based on the standardization of regional customs and languages.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), whose members in the main belong to the Han ethnic group, appropriated this culture by forcibly modifying its millenary customs and history for their benefit.
Arguing a kind of irrational nationalism, the CCP has persecuted and promoted mistreatment and discrimination against all ethnic minorities within China, both of local and foreign roots.
The CCP has promoted the idea of Han superiority over the rest of China’s ethnic minorities. Yet, paradoxically, it is also responsible for breaking the traditional culture that has forged and unified the foundations of Han ethnicity.
China is known for being one of the worst places globally in terms of human rights and freedoms in general. Still, there’s no doubt that this situation is much worse for those belonging to one of the many ethnic minorities that coexist in the vast territory.
Black people not welcome by the communist regime
As the economic ties between Beijing and Africa have deepened during the last decades, the number of traders and immigrants from African countries has grown considerably. They mainly settled in the big cities, where they even developed small communities.
Many claim to feel marginalized and discriminated against, from being ignored to being singled out because of their race.
Such is the case of Marie-Louisa Awolaja, a British-Nigerian, who, after living for some time in China, said in a podcast investigating racism that she felt extremely watched because of her color. Yet, at the same time, she felt almost invisible when it came to resolving specific issues.
“I was surprised at how invisible I was, in a way,” she said. “I expect to be stared at on this side of the world. People don’t necessarily, especially locals, they just carry on—most of the stares you get are from [Chinese] tourists. But when it comes to service, it becomes more evident. They sometimes just don’t acknowledge you. It’s as if you don’t exist.”
In her research, Awolaja invited many black residents in China to explore racial dynamics, touching on topics ranging from the work environment to how school systems work to the gulf between local and immigrant communities of color and numerous examples of discrimination experienced.
Human rights groups claim that Africans face institutional barriers, including being arbitrarily targeted by police enforcing absurd immigration laws and being refused access to restaurants or stores.
In the southern city of Guangzhou, where the most significant number of black people are concentrated, the main complaints of racism emerged during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. The discrimination against this minority promoted by the ruling authority was evident in “prevention” measures exclusively for people of color, arguing that they are more
prone to spreading the virus.
In April 2020, Guangzhou authorities launched a campaign to test Africans in the city for the coronavirus forcibly and ordered them to self-isolate or quarantine themselves in designated hotels. Landlords evicted African residents, forcing many to sleep on the streets, in hotels, or tents. Many restaurants even refused to serve black customers.
Discrimination against blacks is reflected even in the big brands involved in the Chinese market.
A well-known perfume brand had to publicly apologize to actor John Boyega (“Star Wars”) after removing him from the Chinese version of an advertisement, even though he had created and directed the original video, which featured his family and friends in real life.
The Jo Malone ad, recreated to enter the Chinese market, replaced Boyega with local star Liu Haoran without the black actor being notified. According to international media reports, the new video not only wholly eliminated the Star Wars actor’s participation but did not feature any black individuals.
This fact adds to a long list of racial discrimination that arises after agreements between the authorities of the Chinese communist regime and companies in the entertainment industry.
Another recent example was in October 2021, when the Chinese regime, which controls what the population can see, hear and read, removed from the promotional posters of the movie “Dune” the black British actress Sharon Duncan-Brewster. She has one of the leading roles in the classic science fiction film.
A video from April 2020, which went viral, shows another unusual event in which two Chinese security guards at a shopping mall told a black woman accompanied by her white friend that she could not enter and that she should leave the place.
The black woman asked for explanations as to why she could not, but her friend could, but the security men only responded with a gesture pointing to the exit.
Concerning this incident, a post on social media showed that a sign at a
McDonald’s restaurant in Guangzhou said, “We have been informed that from now on, black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant.”
The post went viral, and the U.S. chain had to issue an apology.
Discrimination against Turkic Muslims
“Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins,” wrote Maisumujiang Maimuer, a religious affairs official, in the state news media. “Completely shovel up the roots of ‘two-faced people,’ dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until the end.’”
Under China’s communist regime, no one is free, but racial status means some have a more challenging time than others. Among the most brutally hit are Uighur Muslims, an ethnic minority located in the northwest of the country in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
The Uighur language belongs to the Turkic group of Altaic languages, and the physical and cultural differences with the Han Chinese are apparent. However, they have historically coexisted without major problems until the arrival of the CCP in 1949.
Since then, the dictatorial regime explicitly set out to destroy the Uighur ethnic group. They were repressing their faith and customs while economically abandoning the region, causing brutal poverty accompanied by terrible famines.
This situation awakened a strong feeling of independence on the part of the Uighurs, who could no longer feel part of the country since the communist government had turned its back on them. But unfortunately, the regime used these demonstrations to brand the peaceful Uighurs as Islamic terrorists.
Finally, the Chinese regime invested significant sums in quelling the growing independence sentiment in the region using the repression of the Red Army. At the same time, they slandered the Uighur people both within China and in foreign countries, trying to impose the idea that they are violent, radical, and uncivilized people. However, today’s facts show that nothing could be further from the truth than the CCP’s discourse on the matter.
The repression of Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang continues to this day. Moreover, it has drastically worsened over the past few years, including forced labor camps, disappearances, torture, killings, and the forced sterilization of thousands and thousands of women demonstrating the CCP’s clear intention to eliminate the ethnic offspring to extinguish them completely.
Using the charade of alleged “Uighur terrorism,” in May 2014, the Chinese regime launched the “Iron Fist Campaign against Violent Terrorism” in the Xinjiang region.
Investigations by various human rights groups such as Stanford Law School’s Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and Human Rights Watch, coupled with media reports, activist groups, and internal CCP documents, showed that the regime has committed, and continues to commit, crimes against humanity against the Turkic Muslim population leading to label the case as an actual ethnic genocide.
Up to one million people have been arbitrarily detained in 300 to 400 facilities, including “re-education camps,” pre-trial detention centers, and prisons.
Detainees and convicted prisoners are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment such as cultural and political indoctrination and forced labor.
Courts have handed down harsh prison sentences without due process, sentencing Turkic Muslims to several years in prison simply for sending an Islamic religious recording to a family member or downloading e-books in Uighur.
But oppression against Uighurs is not limited to those deprived of their freedom. The regime’s authorities subject all Turkic Muslims to a system of mass surveillance, circulation controls, family separation, banning the issuance of passports to leave the country, and many other administrative and legal obstacles that place them in extreme inferiority to the rest of the population.
A not minor fact that demonstrates the profound persecution against the Muslim minority is that in 2017, according to official statistics, arrests in Xinjiang accounted for almost 21% of all arrests in China, even though people in Xinjiang represent only 1.5% of the total population.
Forced sterilization of women
As expected, the CCP does not acknowledge its persecution of the Uighur people. Instead, when discussing the issue, it argues that this is a radicalized sector of the population that represents a danger to the rest of society without further explanation.
However, mounting evidence confirms the existence of an intention on the part of the CCP to eliminate not only some alleged “terrorists” but to completely eradicate the Uighur culture, along with its beliefs, customs, and religious traditions. This intention is evident as the CCP seeks to stop their reproduction as much as possible through a perverse process of forced sterilization of women.
In June 2020, the East Turkestan Government in Exile (ETGE) and the East Turkestan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM) submitted compelling evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate an investigation into genocide and specifically the forced sterilization of Uighur women.
The report alleges that the CCP uses forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive pregnancy planning against Uighurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region.
At the same time, the CCP continues to invest in moving as many Han Chinese into the region as possible, seeking to make the Uighurs an absolute minority in their territory.
German anthropologist Adrian Zenz leads investigations and complaints against the Chinese regime on behalf of the Uighur minority. In his latest report, he detailed that there have been practices by the Chinese regime for decades to slowly eradicate the Uighur and Turkic population in the East Turkestan area. However, since 2016, forced sterilization methods have reportedly increased significantly.
In parallel, more than 500,000 Uighur and other Turkic children were forcibly separated from their families to be indoctrinated in state-run orphanages and boarding schools to become “loyal Chinese citizens,” the report charges.
Confessions of a Han Chinese from Xinjiang
Cha Naiyu, a former Han Chinese resident of the Xinjiang region who is now a human rights advocate, claims that Uighurs and other ethnic minorities face systemic repression and discrimination by the CCP.
According to a report published by Amnesty International, he spent a happy childhood living together with the rest of the Uighur children and assures that when he was a child, it did not matter that he was Han and his friends and classmates were not. But this reality has changed drastically.
“The atmosphere has become heavier as the government’s control has increased. Enter any building—restaurant, shopping mall, cinema, hospital, supermarket—and it’s the same: security check, bag check, swipe ID card. Compared to the place I remember from my childhood, it feels like being in a science fiction film.”
The entire region has been organized to discriminate against the Uighur minority at every turn; to board a train out of the city, Uighurs must present a letter of guarantee from local relatives or their employer, Cha Naiyu added.
So-called “work units” strictly control the work performance and behavior of Uighurs in factories. Those who do not smoke or drink, for example, or who are considered to have strong religious leanings, face particular scrutiny.
Cha Naiyu also commented on the controversial “visit, help and unite” program, through which the CCP sends Han Chinese to live in the homes of ethnic minority people. Their mission is to “cultivate national values” in a clear mission to destroy minority cultures and impose Chinese communist culture on the region.
Political oppression, discrimination, and violence against Tibetans
The Tibetan ethnic group, one of the 56 recognized by the CCP within China, is another of the cultures trampled, discriminated against, and persecuted by the communist regime.
The Tibet Autonomous Region is home to about 7.5 million inhabitants. It is estimated that 10% of the original population chose to flee when the CCP occupied the region and the persecution began. Most exiles are in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Taiwan, the United States, and Canada.
The CCP invaded the region in 1950, and from that time to the present day, all aspects of Tibetan life are under siege. Dissenting, protesting, or even wishing the Dalai Lama a happy birthday or having a Tibetan flag on your phone makes you a criminal. Tibetans have to self-censor themselves to avoid imprisonment.
The CCP’s logic is similar to that used in other ethnic minority regions, such as the case of the Uighurs in Xinjiang. But, first, it seeks to stigmatize the population, labeling them as separatists and imposing a false idea that they are violent and dangerous citizens, which is far from the truth.
The CCP uses this false image as an argument by the CCP to take control of the government, the culture, and the very lives of Tibetans.
The CCP permanently controls the daily life of Tibetans. It employs all its technology, spies, police, and infrastructure to monitor every movement.
Peaceful protests are repressed with severe violence. Protesters are imprisoned, tortured, and often shot.
Prisons in Tibet are filled with people detained simply for expressing their desire for freedom. Instead, they are arrested and convicted for peaceful acts, such as waving the Tibetan flag, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, and sending information about events in Tibet abroad.
The CCP has not been able to prove any organized and dangerous violent action by these people to justify such violence against ethnic Tibetans on the international stage.
Why has the CCP persisted in attacking cultural minorities of the Chinese population although they do not pose any danger to the rest of the people or its regime?
To answer this question, it is first necessary to clarify that the persecution is not against some particular individuals considered “terrorists” by the CCP. No, not at all. The persecution is openly against ethnic minorities such as those mentioned above, without making any distinction whatsoever. In other words, it is persecution based on strictly racist, extreme, and discriminatory concepts.
Then, the only way to explain the reason for such outrage is to understand that the Chinese communist regime sees racial superiority in the Han Chinese, or instead in the reinterpretation made by Han communist culture, and intends to eliminate any cultural difference, which in turn opposes the twisted values of communism.
Religions and spiritual beliefs, especially the more orthodox ones, challenge the atheistic communist thinking that sees belief in God as the “opium of the people.”