As an ethnically heterogeneous country, China faces a unique challenge in its nation building efforts: establishing a unified Chinese national identity that satisfies both the Han Chinese majority and China’s various ethnic minority groups. Thus far the results of these efforts have been mixed: while most of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups have assimilated into a “Chinese” national identity, other minority groups, most notably the Tibetans and Uighurs, have forcefully contested the idea of Chinese national identity on multiple occasions. Why do some ethnic groups mobilize national identity contestation while others do not?

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