Lack of better jobs for China's ethnic minorities a worsening problem

November 22, 2012

(—People from China's Uyghur minority are struggling to get higher status, higher paying jobs, which in turn is leading to a forced divide between different ethnic groups, according to a new University of Melbourne study.

The study found a combination of a jobs market that favours the dominant Han ethnic group, as well as crackdowns on Uyghur religious and , has fuelled tensions between the two groups.

Writing in a recently published paper for the International Journal of Sociology, Dr Reza Hasmath from the University's Faculty of Arts said that for the more than eight million Muslim Uyghur's living in China's Xinjiang region, a lack of top jobs is causing a rise in "religious and ethnic consciousness".

This may cause issues for the government said Dr Hasmath, as it could lead to violent dissent between the two groups in an economically important part of the country.

The two groups have already clashed publically on a number of occasions, most famously in the rioting of July 2009.

"From the government's perspective, a heightened conflict in Xinjiang is not something they want to deal with, as it is to one of the nation's largest and most important natural gas and , and occupying one-sixth of China's total ."

"However, Muslim Uyghurs are increasingly rejecting ideas of 'national unity', instead preferring to do business with fellow Uyghurs and reinforce the they hold towards Han Chinese."

The problem, according to Dr Hasmath, is an unequal distribution of job opportunities and wealth.

"There is a clear tendency for Uyghurs to hold low-status and low-paying positions and so they are generally enduring lower and wages than their Han counterparts. Where Han Chinese are over-represented in high status and high paying jobs such as in education, health and public management, Uyghurs are over-represented in agriculture, where over 80 per cent of the group's working population is present."

China's changing economic landscape has not aided the situation said Dr Hasmath. While workers now have greater freedom to join their employer of choice, it has increased migration to urban areas.

"Migrants rely upon their hometown connections to gain an entry into urban life and given the job discrimination seemingly in place, this migration negatively reinforces the problem."

Dr Hasmath concluded that while recent economic incentives provided by Chinese authorities to the Muslim Uyghur population have been helpful, they don't solve the problem.

"Muslim Uyghurs continue to watch the better-paying go to Han Chinese, while the more labour-intensive, poorer-paying positions are assigned to them."

"Until this situation has been corrected, the current divisions will remain and the Muslim Uyghur-Han Chinese conflict will continue to play a significant role in the history of Xinjiang."

Explore further: 'Word of mouth' jobs elude ethnic migrants: study

More information: … 83312459101.abstract

Related Stories

China says Internet fully restored in Xinjiang

May 14, 2010

(AP) -- China's riot-torn western region of Xinjiang said it fully restored the Internet on Friday, 10 months after shutting down access over allegations that agitators used the Web to stir up ethnic violence that killed ...

Text service resumes 6 months after Xinjiang riots

January 17, 2010

(AP) -- Text messaging services restarted with some restrictions Sunday for cell phone users in far western China, more than six months after deadly ethnic rioting prompted the government to shut them down.

Self-confidence the secret to workplace advancement

October 18, 2012

(—The old saying "fake it until you make it" might actually be sound professional advice, with new University of Melbourne research finding self-confidence is a key determinant of workplace success.

10 infected with polio in China outbreak

September 22, 2011

At least 10 people in northwestern China have contracted a highly infectious strain of polio, in the first outbreak of the disease in the country for 12 years, a United Nations group said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Ancient species of giant sloth discovered in Mexico

August 17, 2017

Mexican scientists said Wednesday they have discovered the fossilized remains of a previously unknown species of giant sloth that lived 10,000 years ago and died at the bottom of a sinkhole.

The mathematics of golf

August 16, 2017

(—The official Rules of Golf, which are continually being revised and updated as new equipment emerges, have close ties to mathematics. In many cases, math is used to place limitations on golf equipment, such as ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.