Ms Zhuangsi Xu1
1University Of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
For a hundred years before the PRC, the entire Chinese elite was united in a conscious effort to eliminate language diversity in the pursuit of modernity and independence. Importing Western concepts, the idea that transforming into a classic Westphalian nation was the only pathway for China’s reinstatement in the world was ingrained into the national consciousness. This connection of nationalism and linguistic homogeneity originating from the 19th century is impeding the legitimacy of minority language protection in academic and political rhetoric today. Minority language matters are subsumed in a narrative of national crisis and rejuvenation, sidestepping the issue of state obligation and minority rights. With the foreseeable rise of cultural conservatism in the Xi administration, preserving minority languages in China will prove increasingly challenging in the future. This paper analyses how nationalism in China is utilised by the government to create a self-reinforcing narrative that legitimises its policy of linguistic assimilation. The system of the ‘Beijing Consensus’ that links national rejuvenation through economic development, the Communist party leadership and linguistic homogeneity tightly together provided a stable theoretical basis for assimilating policies readily accepted by the general public, contributing to the voluntary erosion of linguistic diversity.
Ms Zhuangsi Xu is a PhD law student at the University of New South Wales, her topic is on the impact of international law on China’s protection of minority language rights. Zhuangsi completed her LLM at the University of Hong Kong and interned at the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Center