25 Minorities of Yunnan
is a microcosm of China in the areas of minority affairs
and nationality relations. The province has 25 minority
groups, nearly half of the country's total ( 56 ethnic groups
) . With such ethnic diversity it is important to ask the
question: what criteria are used to determine minority status
and classification? Basically, there are five ways: Race
, Language, Culture, Religion, History.
In Yunnan race is not a major consideration,
as it is in northwest China where caucasian exist, Language
and culture, however, are of primary interest because they
are the basis for classfying most minority nationalities.
Religion plays a role in groups such as the Hui ( Muslims
) who, to all intents and purposes, are Chinese except for
their faith. Historical background can sometimes tip the
balance in determining the status of a people. The Bai ,
who have a high cultural level and speak a language closedly
related to Mandarin, are clearly not Chinese on the basis
of their long, well-recorded and independent history .