Washington International Law Journal


Barry Sautman


China greatly expanded its longstanding set of preferential policies for ethnic minorities in the 1980s and 1990s. Affirmative action in higher education annually allows for the admission of tens of thousands of ethnic minority students who, based on their national entrance examination scores alone, would be unable to gain a much sought-after place in one of the country's thousand universities. The variety of ways in which the admission and retention of PRC minority students are facilitated by laws, regulations and policies are examined, as are attitudes toward affirmative action on the part of Han majority and ethnic minority students. In contrast to claims made by some Western scholars of affirmative action, who assert that affirmative action is universally problematic, higher educational preferences for Chinese minorities have not led to a high rate of academic failure, nor to tensions between Han and minority students. While ethnic minority people would like to see affirmative action in Chinese higher education strengthened further, the system is now threatened by marketization.

First Page