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(Source: NED)

A Collective Awakening of Han Consciousness?

In an analysis of the recent protests in China and published in the December 2022 issue of the Journal of Democracy, Tenzin Dorjee of the Tibet Action Institute opines that the world witnessed “for the first time in living memory, the mainstream Chinese public showing solidarity with an oppressed, non-Han minority” through slogans like “Stand with Urumqi” and “We are all Xinjiang people.” The author further states “for Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other ethnic groups who have long been at the receiving end of Han chauvinism, this sudden display of empathy toward Xinjiang is the most uplifting and promising aspect of the current protests. The humanization of the Uyghur figure in the Han imagination makes this a watershed moment, marking a subtle yet profound milestone in the moral-political evolution of a nation: the birth of conscience, which is not to be confused with political consciousness. Political consciousness is born when a group of individuals discovers a sense of collective identity and common interest. Conscience, on the other hand, springs forth only when the same group develops the higher-order capacity to empathize with a more unfortunate community and cultivates the humility to examine its own role in the reproduction of systemic injustice. If 1989 marked a reawakening of the Chinese people’s political consciousness, 2022 may yet come to represent the first awakening of their collective conscience.”

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