2016 年 2016 巻 8 号 p. 57-74
This paper discusses how, if at all, Mandarin education affects Uyghur students in terms of the potential correlation between language and identity in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang is located in the north-west part of China and it has been experiencing violent incidents against government policies recently. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has applied various social policies with the aim of achieving a “harmonious society” through “ethnic unity” under “Chinese Nation” as a response to those incidents. Mandarin education is one of the ways CPC employs to achieve ethnic unity. In Xinjiang, the importance of acquiring Mandarin language is stressed to ethnic minorities, like Uyghur who are mostly Muslim. Through literature reviews, a site visit, and interviews with Uyghur, this paper reveals influence of Mandarin education on Uyghur-Han ethnic group relations and Uyghur identity. It also explores validity of Mandarin education as means to realize ethnic unity and a so-called harmonious society.
Language and identity are closely related to each other. For instance, language determines ethnic identity and identity encourages its holder to learn language. Mandarin education segregates Uyghur and Han Chinese and strengthens Uyghur identity because of this correlation. As this form of education differentiates Uyghur from Han and emphasizes the difference of Uyghur ethnic identity, current education overemphasizing Mandarin is not appropriate as means to achieve CPC’s goal of ethnic unity and a harmonious society. If the CPC wants to realize harmonious society as a multi-ethnic country, it should introduce education which esteems minority languageand culture, and should promote mutual understanding from both the minority side and majority Han side. In harmonious societies and multi-ethnic states, each ethnic group maintains its traditional language and culture. Minorities and Han should seek to understand one another through ongoing interaction and mutual acceptance of cultural difference. Key words: Mandarin education, language and identity, Xinjiang, Uyghur