A Study of Inter-Ethnic Political Integration in Multi-ethnic States

by Zhou Ping (Author)
©2023 Monographs VI, 324 Pages


Inter-ethnic political integration is a major theoretical and practical problem which is increasingly prominent in the political reality of multi-ethnic countries. This book is the final result of a special study on inter-ethnic political integration, emphasizing and proving the basic concepts and questions of inter-ethnic political integration, constructing a theoretical system of inter-ethnic political integration, forming a theoretical framework of inter-ethnic political integration, and thus promoting the healthy development of inter-ethnic political integration research.

Table Of Contents

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Zhou, Ping, author.
Title: A study of inter-ethnic political integration in multi-ethnic states / Zhou Ping.
Description: First edition. | New York, NY: Peter Lang, [2023] | Includes
bibliographical references.
Identifiers: LCCN 2023017981 (print) | LCCN 2023017982 (ebook) |
ISBN 9781433182174 (hardback) | ISBN 9781433182181 (ebook) |
ISBN 9781433182198 (epub)
Subjects: LCSH: Nationalism. | Minorities–Political aspects. | Ethnic
Relations–Political aspects. | Ethnic relations–Economic aspects. |
Classification: LCC JC311. Z556 2023 (print) | LCC JC311 (ebook) |
DDC 320.54–dc23/eng/20230503
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023017981
LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023017982
DOI 10.3726/b17304



Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.
The German National Library lists this publication in the German
National Bibliography; detailed bibliographic data is available
on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.

Supported by a Grant from the Yunnan University Double First-Class Initiative

Cover design by Peter Lang Group AG

ISBN 9781433182174 (hardback)
ISBN 9781433182181 (ebook)
ISBN 9781433182198 (epub)
DOI 10.3726/b17304

© 2023 Peter Lang Group AG, Lausanne
Published by Peter Lang Publishing Inc., New York, USA
info@peterlang.com - www.peterlang.com

All rights reserved.
All parts of this publication are protected by copyright.
Any utilization outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the
publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution.
This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and
processing in electronic retrieval systems.

This publication has been peer reviewed.

About the author

Zhou Ping Ph.D., his research interests include political theory, ethnic politics, Chinese frontier governance and founder of national political science in China. He is currently a professor in the Institute of National Politics at Yunnan University.

About the book

The nation-state has been the basic form of statehood since modern times, and the basic unit of today’s world system. In multi-ethnic states, many different ethnic groups co-exist as historical and cultural communities that seek both to safeguard their own interests and integrity and to cooperate with one another in order to build unity and stability of the multi-ethnic state itself. Inter-ethnic political integration has become an increasingly important issue facing multi-ethnic states. This book considers the manifold significance of such a process and closely examines how different multi-ethnic states around the world have tried to achieve their integration objectives by adopting different policy mechanisms, political models, and underlying normative commitments. The author also discusses such important theoretical and practical issues as the role played by political parties and the rights and obligations of ethnic minorities.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.


Chapter 1 Inter-Ethnic Politics in the Multi-ethnic States

Chapter 2 Inter-ethnic Political Integration and the Maintenance of a Multi-ethnic State

Chapter 3 Realization of Inter-Ethnic Political Integration

Chapter 4 Political Parties in Inter-Ethnic Political Integrations

Chapter 5 Inter-Ethnic Political Integration Practice in China

Chapter 6 Ethnicity and Politics in the Perspective of Inter-Ethnic Political Integration


· 1 ·


The inter-ethnic political integration in a multi-ethnic state constitutes an extremely important part of the inter-ethnic politics of the state. Such inter-ethnic political integration of a multi-ethnic state takes place gradually in the state’s construction and development and gains salience gradually with the development of its inter-ethnic politics, thus making an issue of tremendous complexity. Therefore, to study the inter-ethnic political integration in multi-ethnic states, we need first to examine the inter-ethnic politics in such states. For this purpose, we must study, in a concrete manner, the evolution of ethnicities and nation-states and their mutual relations, the nature and types of multi-ethnic states, and the formation and development of inter-ethnic politics in multi-ethnic states.

1.1 Ethnicities and Nation-States

An ethnic group is a group form of humankind, that is, the group of people as a community. A state is a political form created by humankind, and it has evolved into a political community. The difference between them is obvious. However, they are so closely and inseparably related in history and contemporary reality that one could not exist alone without the other. Thus, if we do not consider the state, we cannot understand and analyze ethnicity fully, and even more impossible for us to grasp the essence of the concept of ethnicity; If we do not consider ethnicity, we cannot reveal the characteristics and development laws of the state, and even more impossible for us to comprehensively analyze and grasp the characteristics and development trends of the state with complex ethnic groups. Therefore, it must be linked with the relevant state, whether using the concept of ethnicity or analyzing the phenomena of and problems with an ethnic group. In the same vein, when studying the phenomena of and problems with a state, we must also pay attention to the ethnic nature and composition of the state.

1.1.1 The Ethnicities and Its Evolution

Ethnicity is a stable community formed in the survival and development of humankind, which is a socio-historical phenomenon. In attempting to understand and describe this phenomenon, several concepts concerned with ethnicity have emerged. Different concepts of nation, which developed under different social and historical conditions, present a very complex scene: they are many in their types and include some quite different in their conceptual meanings. In other words, “ethnicity” has always been conceptually ambiguous, and what is more, among different viewpoints representing different concepts, heated debates have often occurred. In China, after the 1950s, the definition of ethnicity proposed by Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (1879–1953) occupied a dominant position for a long time, which once silenced the debates on the concept of ethnicity. However, in recent years, under the background of an increasingly emancipated mind, with the incongruity between the reality of ethnicity and the concept of ethnicity and the increasing problems caused by the conceptual ambiguity of ethnicity, discussions, and debates concerning the concept of ethnicity have got active again, and some new definitions of ethnicity have come on the scene. Of all those definitions of ethnicity, some are introduced from abroad and Chinese scholars give others. Some are descriptive, others are analytical, and others are speculative. This diversity of definitions of ethnicity and the incessant introduction of new ones not only further manifest the complexity and diversity of national phenomena but also indicate the deepening understanding of national phenomena gained by the Chinese academic circle. In fact, many different definitions of ethnicity are given based on different national phenomena and types. To a great extent, different definitions of ethnicity have resulted actually from generalizations of different types of ethnicities.

The Greek word “ethnos” means “a group,” “a nest,” and “a small crowd,” each of which refers to grouping humankind (Hao, 2002). In the Chinese context, the concept of the character zu in the Chinese word minzu (nation; ethnic group) also means “group,” which refers to some people or things with common characteristics. Either “ethnos” or zu means conceptually the most basic, extensive, and ancient community of people in human history, and it is also the most stable community of people, whose formation and development are a manifestation of human essence.

The “ethnos” or zu of human beings is the inevitable product and expression of the human essence of species-living. “Man is a species-being.” 1 In the process of maintaining his own existence through production and living and thereby realizing his development, a man always “needs to form a society with some other people, and only by seeing human life as life in a group can it be accurately described.” “Without uniting as a group, we would never become more human, nor would we survive” (Lipson, 2001). However, a specific group of people always live in a specific and relatively stable living environment, and the first rule of survival is to adapt to the environment. In order to adapt to the environment and survive, the group of people living in that environment would create a set of special modes for production, living, and social organization, as well as language communication and spiritual activity, thus developing their own culture. With the passage of time, their common experience and the culture they gradually inherited and accumulated would serve as a powerful link that connected this group tightly and made it a deep and dense community of people. The so-called “ethnicity” refers to such a stable community of people.

With the development of society, the contacts and exchanges between different ethnicities became more and more frequent. Thus, a member of an ethnic group regarded all the other members of their ethnic group as his “own people” or “the same species” and identified with them, and saw the members of a different ethnic group as “others” or “different species” and rejected or even despised them (Aristotle,1965). Under such conditions, for each individual of humankind, he could not form a sense of belonging unless being a member of a specific ethnicity, and only in this ethnic group could he find his own position, establish his own home, and maintain and develop his own interests by depending on the form of ethnicity. As Mazzini, an Italian national democratic thinker pointed out that if an individual left his ethnic group, he would have “neither name, sign, voice, nor rights, and he would be, like a soldier without a flag, unable to do his duty to the rest of the mankind” (Mazzini, 1915). In this sense, ethnicity means the existence mode of humankind in a certain stage of its historical development.

As the stable form of the community of people formed in history, an ethnic group manifests several distinct characteristics: First, the culture and history formed in the process of its common survival and development. This is illustrated by its common ancestral legends (or creation myths), common language, common or uniform religious beliefs, and common or shared values, lifestyles, and customs. In the long-term development, it is this common culture and history that tie people of an ethnic group together. Second, ethnic identification. All members of the same ethnicity identify themselves with their ethnic name and ethnic group and identify with each other. This identification is deep-rooted and forms an important link by which the members of the ethnicity stick together. Third, ethnic emotion. This is the attachment and sense of belonging cherished by the members of an ethnic group to their own ethnicity, which is an emotional experience of the relationship between individuals and their group. Fourth, the ethnic consciousness. This is the understanding of the members of an ethnic group towards the group they belong to, involving ethnic self-consciousness and consciousness of ethnic relations. The former covers the ethnic identity consciousness, ethnic destiny consciousness, and ethnic rights and interests’ consciousness, and the latter, consciousness of ethnic boundaries, ethnic equality consciousness, and ethnic competition consciousness.

As the form of a community of people, ethnicity, once formed in the process of human development, would acquire considerable stability. Such stability is also an essential feature of ethnicity. However, the stability of the ethnicities is not absolute. On the contrary, the ethnicities undergoes constant development and change in the long course of history, during which a specific national process is formed. Moreover, under the influence of the natural environment, economic development, national consciousness, religious belief, inter-ethnic relations, and political process, such national process displays the characteristic of diversity. Although the specific forms of national development and changes are multifarious, basically they move in the two directions of “splitting” and “integrating,” thus forming a nation’s processes of dispersion and aggregation (Ning, 1995a).

The dispersion of ethnicity is the process of its disintegration. In this process, a unified ethnic group is disintegrated into different parts through such ways as differentiation, fission, and separation. A part thus separated from the nation will create its new history and culture step by step by adapting itself to the new natural and social environments, and will gradually develop into a new ethnic group different from the previous ethnic group it belonged to. In the process of human development, examples of such disintegration of one ethnicity into several new ethnicities from the same origin abound. Historically, humankind experienced at least four major migrations, each of which caused ethnic disintegration on a large scale. The result of each such ethnic disintegration was many new ethnicities coming into being.

Ethnic aggregation is a process of ethnic reorganization. In the course of ethnic aggregation, different units or groups of ethnicity approach, unite, assimilate, and merge with one another, and their cultures penetrate into, absorb, integrate and acculturate one another, thus forming a new ethnic group that contains the original ethnic culture and meanwhile displays new cultural connotation in new forms. This new culture ties those different groups of people from different ethnicities into one new community, and this ethnicity is an ethnic group with different sources which come together in the same course. This is how many large ethnic units in today’s world have gradually formed and developed. In the ethnicities of the world, there are a big number of ethnicities formed by ethnic aggregation, which far outnumber the ethnic groups still in their original forms.

As far as each specific ethnic group goes, its development process is unique. The earliest ethnic groups in human history were primary ethnic groups in their original form, and if an ethnic group is formed as the result of some such primary ethnicity undergoing dispersion or aggregation is a secondary ethnicity. Nonetheless, in the ethnicities of the world today, the primary ethnic groups in their purely original forms have already been few, and most ethnic groups are secondary ethnic groups, for they have, more or less, absorbed and blended in elements from other ethnic groups.

Nevertheless, what is said in the above concerns only the rough and general law of ethnic evolution. Some other ethnic groups were not formed as a product of the natural evolution of human groups. Of them, some were even brought into being by the state force. If a state designates a specific group of people in a certain area in it as an ethnic group, gives it a legal name, and offers it adequate social and cultural resources, it can also shape it into an ethnic group. Some others were created in one specific historical event or another. “For instance, the Zulus of South Africa are an artificially created nation put together from many clans and tribes two centuries ago by a powerful warrior, Shaka. Today, people believe they are Zulu only because Shaka united them through conquest, forcing them to speak his language and turning them into outstanding warriors” (Roskin et al., 2001).


VI, 324
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2023 (August)
ethnic group inter-ethnic political integration multi-ethnic state ethnic state China policy mechanism political parties integration mechanisms A Study of Inter-Ethnic Political Integration in Multi-ethnic States Zhou Ping
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. VI, 324 pp.

Biographical notes

Zhou Ping (Author)

Zhou Ping obtained a doctoral degree in law from East China Normal University. He is currently a professor, doctoral supervisor and head of the Department of Political Science at Yunnan University. He mainly engages in political theory, ethnic politics, local government and border governance research. He has successively presided over more than ten scientific research projects. He has written eight monographs including Political Development of Hong Kong (1980-2004), Ethnic Politics and Research on China's Border Governance. He has published 124 academic papers.


Title: A Study of Inter-Ethnic Political Integration in Multi-ethnic States