The essays presented in this volume evolved from a conference that was inspired by conversations between Michel Oksenberg of Stanford University and myself in 1999. Professor Oksenberg suggested that I invite leading specialists on the minority minzu (ethnic groups) of China to write essays appraising the Chinese government’s administration of the minority regions, an important lacuna in studies of modern China. After discussions with colleagues at Stanford and Columbia Universities, I invited the prospective authors to provide overviews of state relations with the minority peoples since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, analyze the present status of these relations, and suggest policy alternatives for the United States if crises should erupt in a minority region. For publication in the Studies on Ethnic Groups in China series, we have eliminated the U.S. policy dimension.
The conference, titled “China’s Management of Its National Minorities,” convened in Washington, D.C., in February 2001. The authors met for three days to discuss papers that had circulated well in advance of the meetings to suggest revisions. After the conference, I reread the papers and suggested additional revisions to each author. Later, we made further adjustments in response to comments by those who evaluated the manuscript for the University of Washington Press. These published essays are thus the result of several rounds of criticism and refinement.
Professor Oksenberg’s interest in the conference persisted until the onset of his final illness. His contributions to this particular project and to so much else in the field of Chinese studies were so manifold that the authors wish to dedicate this work to his memory. He helped conceive the project, and he actively supported efforts to locate funding for the conference. For this assistance, the authors are grateful.
The Smith Richardson Foundation provided a grant for the conference, a subvention that facilitated our work. Dr. Samantha Ravitch, its former program officer for East Asia, assisted enormously in planning the conference. The Asia Society and its vice president for public and corporate programs, Robert Radtke, administered the grant efficiently and supplied much-appreciated logistical support.
The authors benefited from the suggestions of Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University and Pamela Crossley of Dartmouth College, who acted as discussants at the conference. Professor Kotkin, a historian of Russia, offered comparative insights, and Professor Crossley, a specialist on Qing China, provided historical context.
City University of New York