Diversity over uniformity

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It is easy to think of China as one vast nation, with everyone looking the same.

But that's not the case. Sure, the Han majority are everywhere, and are now migrating into new areas out west. But there are dozens of ethnic minorities scattered throughout China, mainly in high and rough places.

Last year China tried to show its unity, with a bit of ethnic culture thrown in to show how wonderful it is. Now, this is the first article I've seen which questions unity over diversity:

China's diversity, not its uniformity should be a source of great pride


IT is generally recognized that traditionally Chinese culture was very rich in its diversity, which could be traced to the co-existence of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

After Confucianism acquired a degree of orthodoxy, it had been constantly nourished and rejuvenated by Taoist and Buddhist traditions that were influential among the people.

Since the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, liberal-minded Confucian scholars have benefited greatly from Buddhism, Taoism, and even Western Catholicism.

In other words, China had once been very robust in terms of its cultural sustainability.

Unfortunately, China is no longer a haven of cultural diversity.

As late as in the late Qing Dynasty, Chinese people in different parts of China still lived in different types of dwellings.

In Shanghai there were shikumen (lane houses and neighborhoods); in Beijing there were siheyuan (four-square courtyards); in Guangdong Province there were weicun (walled villages); in Shaanxi Province there were yaodong (cave dwellings).

The Hakkahs stayed in tulou (earthen storied buildings), and water-bound people south of the Yangtze River stayed in boat houses.

All these dwelling places had been designed with a view to unique natural conditions and local cultural traditions.

These buildings have mostly been replaced by the homogeneous buildings you see today.

It seems that all new buildings are now built according to one blueprint.

The curious must visit such tourists sites as Zhujiajiao (Shanghai), Zhouzhuang (Jiangsu Province), or Lijiang (Yunnan Province) to get a glimpse of varieties.

Another instance can be seen in the loss of our linguistic diversity.

Different regions used to have different dialects, which are the base of different styles of local dramas.

This linguistic diversity is diminishing fast, with many young people no longer able to speak their regional dialects.

China should be proud of his diversity, not of its uniformity and homogeneity.
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