Perspective of and Reflections on Differentiated Rights of Ethnic Minorities
September 28,2016   By:chinahumanrights.org
Zhao Shukun (photo: Zhao Yifan)

Perspective of and Reflections on Differentiated Rights of Ethnic Minorities 
Zhao Shukun Wang Xuan

Professor and Director of Education and Training Department of Human Rights Institute
of Southwest University of Political Science and Law 
Abstract: Should the ethnic minorities have differentiated rights? A positive answer can be obtained based on the factual origin, moral factor and political correctness of differentiated rights. The members of ethnic minorities tend to have claims for “rights” that are based on the social fact that their culture is different from that of other members of the society. The existing system of universal rights of citizens cannot fully meet such claims. Such fact-based difference provides the soil, so to speak, in which differentiated rights of minority ethnic groups can grow. What’s more, the core value of differentiated rights is to recognize, respect and protect the cultural identity of individuals. Thirdly, “equal participation” alone is not sufficient to protect the basic human rights of the ethnic minorities, not to mention satisfying their claim for additional rights. Considering the distinct cultural background of ethnic minorities, only with the help of the state power, can the imbalance of social situation be adjusted and corrected. The implementation of the laws and policies for differentiated rights of ethnic minorities have brought about an enormous positive social effect, but at the same time new cultural barriers, ethnic conflicts and confrontations have unexpectedly come along. At present, the normal practices worldwide in establishing differentiated rights of ethnic minorities include the following policies: prohibition of discrimination, positively prioritized preferential treatment, reversely prioritized preferential treatment and quota allocation. It is commonly believed that the “policy of prohibiting discrimination ” encounters the least social resistance;the social effects of the policies of positively prioritized preferential treatment are not optimistic; reversely prioritized preferential treatment deserves affirmation and support while the policy of quota allocation proves undesirable. The policies relating to ethnic minorities’ rights are crucial to the political identification of the ethnic minorities and national stability. On the one hand, the policy of differentiated rights contributes to “cultural diversity” by meeting the need of ethnic minorities to return to their own culture. On the other hand, there exist risks that may endanger “political integration”. How to coordinate the relationship between the two is a key point which always confronts differentiated rights policy for ethnic minorities. The cultures of all ethnic minorities should be recognized and respected, multi-cultural social policies be practiced and the state power be employed to actively protect the subsistence and development of members of ethnic minority groups. A platform for equal communication should be built by cultural exchanges and social contacts; consensus should be reached based on protection of differences and tolerance of cultural diversity, and ultimately in this way bring about “consistency and universality” that China needs. The approach of adhering to multiculturalism and differentiated rights of ethnic minorities, is the most likely way to optimally deal with the relationship between “multiculturalism” and “political integration”, promote a win-win development of national cultural identity and political harmony.
Key Words: Ethnic Minorities; Differentiated Rights; Cultural Diversity; Political Identification
Zhao Shukun, Professor, Southwest University of Political Science and Law.Wang Xuan, Procuratorate staff in Ji'an, Jiangxi Province, Master of the Southwest University of Political Science and Law.