China has the largest population in the world, with56 officially recognised ethnic groups where ethnic Han Chinese comprise more than 91% of the population (CIA Factbook 2021). China’s 1984 “Law on Regional National Autonomy” regulates the government’s policy towards the autonomous regions where most ethnic minorities reside. While minorities in these areas have some degree of freedom to retain their own culture and enact specific regulations, these actions are subject to government approval under the principle of “democratic centralism”. However, ethnic tensions have increased overtime, in reaction to assimilation policies forced on ethnic minorities. Furthermore, control of ethnic minorities has recently resulted in human rights abuses, especially against Tibetans and Uyghurs (ISDP 2019).
There is no comprehensive anti-discrimination law in China. The country’s relevant laws and regulations are fragmented across different areas and lack enforcement mechanisms. As a result, determining what constitutes discrimination and developing a systematic approach towards discriminatory behaviours or practices at all levels may prove problematic (ISDP 2019).
China has achieved an overall ICDI score of 0.37. A score of 0.73 in the component of fractionalisation indicates that existing levels of cultural participation typically meet the conditions needed for a moderately favourable degree of inclusion. A score of 0.60 in the component of intercultural attitudes indicates a slightly above average degree of global social tolerance and slightly below average degree of racist attitudes towards other ethnic groups within the population.
Current Situation and Outlook
China has attained a consistent, fairly below average score across all three dimensions which constitute the overall ICDI score. China can improve its ICDI score by strengthening all three dimensions. It can enhance its opportunities dimension by creating promoting minority inclusion through the promotion of intergroup relations and implementing policies or acts which deter the discrimination of ethnic minorities. China can strengthen its structural dimension by working towards reducing socio-economic inequality and enhancing the opportunities for increased levels of educational attainment throughout the population. It can also strengthen its legislative dimension by introducing additional anti-discrimination acts and or policies.