Ethnic Groups Of China With Different Language And Culture; Special Treatment For Minority Groups.

There are many ethnic groups of China in Yunnan Province as we were to see during a visit to the Botanical Gardens in Xishuangbanna. There were replicas of homes of some of the ethnic groups of China in the Minorities Park near the city of Kunming. There is also a Minorities Park at Beijing that can be reached from the city center by taxi or service bus, and it is well worth the time to visit the park, to have an insight into the diverse cultures of the ethnic groups of China. Inevitably, these Minority Parks have become tourist attractions for visitors to China. Inevitably, the design and layout of the Minority Parks have been influenced by the possible expectations and needs of the visiting tourists. There were minority groups in Jinghong, to where we had flown from Kunming, and we would stop to visit one of the ethnic groups on our return journey from the Botanical Gardens to Jinghong. The minority group we visited, existed in isolation, and not in a specific park allocated for their observation. We felt privileged to have had the opportunity of visiting them; we felt guilty of intrusion into their private lives.

When we first arrived in Jinghong, it was like being in a different country, and not just in another province of China. Most of the women were attired in head wrap, coloured blouses, and sarongs, as if we were in Thailand or Laos, and their language was similar to the dialects of those countries. The new houses being built in Jinghong did not have any different appearance to new houses being built in some other parts of China, but the old wooden houses of the ethnic minorities in Jinghong, were of the Dai style, built on stilts, with room beneath for cows and pigs.

Photo of children of ethnic group in China, gathered at roadside, show signs of malnutrition.

Children At Roadside, Members Of Yunnan Ethnic Group, Show Signs Of Malnutrition.

Access to the minority group we visited during our journey back from the Botannical Gardens, was by walking up a steep track from the road, where our minibus was parked. Our first contact was with a group of young children of the ethnic group, the age range appeared to be between 1 years old and 12 years old, with the older children caring for their younger siblings. At the time of out visit we were told that there were less than 2000 surviving members of this ethnic group. The children we came in contact with looked happy enough, despite the conditions in which they found themselves. Amongst the group rambled 2 very fat pot bellied pigs, snorting away as they searched for something to eat.

We moved to another part of the commune and entered one of the large wooden houses built on stilts. In one part of the house a young woman was cooking a meal in a pot supported by three stones over a woodfire. All the other people in this room were elderly. In another smaller room, that was rather dark, four old women sat watching a small black and white television. All the members of this ethnic group we saw during our visit were either quite young or very old. When we asked about the fathers and mother of the children of the ethnic group, we were told that they would be out working in the fields, or selling their produce in the markets.

At the end of our visit, and when we returned to the minibus on the road, there was a group of five young boys in the layby. Two were sitting on their bench, that happened to be part of a tree trunk, and the other boys of the ethnic group were standing. Only two of the boys were wearing sandles, the others were barefooted. From the appearance of the children it would seem that they showed the signs of malnutrition, and the age of the children was difficult to gauge. I had the feeling that I could have lifted up all of the five children at the same time.

''''' In the politics of some countries, a minority is an ethnic group that is recognized as such by respective laws of its country and therefore has some rights that other groups lack. Speakers of a legally-recognized minority language, for instance, might have the right to education or communication with the government in their mother tongue. Countries that have special provisions for minorities include China, Germany, India, Romania, Russia, and the United Kingdom (which does maintain the concept of a British supra-nation, however). In the United States, the term minority typically refers to members of the non-white population. Src: '''''

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Picture of young Chinese boy trying to catch plane in Tiananmen Square.
9th June, 2007

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