The effects on ethnic minorities of the opening up of ...

The effects on ethnic minorities of the opening up of Southwest China to Southeast Asia

Naomi Hellmann


Since the beginning of market reforms in 1978, Southwest China has experienced dramatic and wide-ranging changes. Once connected by a vast network of mountain roads and bridges channeling flows of trade, religion, and culture between diverse ethnic groups, today, China is building a modern superhighway through Southeast Asia from Yunnan to major riparian cities to mirror the ancient caravan routes. As China endorses a going-out strategy, extending its influence into SE Asia, both the apparent persistence in levels of poverty that are accompanying the acceleration of rates of economic growth and the evident contradiction between local autonomy and national unity and integration that lies at the heart of China’s ethnic policy raise many unanswered questions. The key question this study will focus on is: What are the effects on ethnic minorities of the opening up of SW China to SE Asia? Indeed, why do ethnic minorities differ in the outcomes of China’s transnational regionalization strategy?