Thursday, May 27th, 2010
25.05.2010 - 27.05.2010 25 °C
According to my student Jack- who's one of the smartest and most curious 13 year olds I've ever met and who often makes me feel like I'm the student rather than the teacher!- there are 55 minorities in China. The Hans make up the vast majority of the Chinese population (roughly 90%). But considering the size of the Chinese population, even "minorities" can command big numbers!
Well anyways, just the other day, Beverly, my Chinese colleague and I were gossiping away at the Beijing university cafe when we encountered one of these minorities. I was sitting next to a European looking man whose family arrived shortly after we had. His little girl had the cutest green eyes and dirty blond hair. Naturally, we all started fawning over her and asked where she was from. She didn't seem to understand English, so we switched to Chinese, which she did understand. Turns out she WAS Chinese! I was convinced she was Russian or Eastern European but in fact, she and her dad were Uyghur!
The fifth largest minority in China is of Turkic origin, which explains their European features. They live primarily in the Xinjiang autonomous region in the far west of China (one of the largest autonomous regions) but have also come to populate major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. They are muslims and they writing is very similar to Arabic. As a matter of fact, if you look at any currency bill in China, you will notice their calligraphy next to other those of other Chinese minorities!