Inner Mongolia, the Government, and Tourism

COR’s purpose of the Junior year is to make Champlain students look beyond the borders of their country, and see how the rest of the world lives and interacts. The class Tourism and Ethnicity in China takes a look at the Cultural, Social, and Economic effects that occur when tourism meets ethnicity in the enormous stretch of land dubbed China.

From prior experience I knew that China’s government was domineering, manipulative, and apathetic to its people but I had little clue how far it actually went. From the class I learned just how tight the stranglehold that the chinese government hold over the ethnic minorities. Places that used to hunt for food were told they can’t have guns…and that hunting was illegal, but they still expected them to “represent their peoples”. Another example would be how they give villages stipends to be used to encourage tourism, encouraging competition and leading to instances of one group of people simply acting like another group to milk money from the government and tourists.

It is clear that China’s Government fears the minorities, or at the very least the people running the government fearing the minorities would “rise against the Han people” aka them. I say this because we have read of constant example of “Han-ifying” of the minorities from dolls, to clothes, to songs, and so on to make it “easier” for Han tourists to enjoy themselves, while simultaneously eroding the actual minority culture, beliefs and languages until all that is left behind is  Government Approved, Han-friendly “minority culture”.

Inner Mongolia makes up an 1/8th of China’s landmass, it is also obviously the border region between Mongolia and China which understandably raises tension for the Chinese government. However, those of Mongol ethnicity only make up a mere around four million of the twenty four million, according to t the 2010 census, people that occupy the area designated Inner Mongolia.

I, through my guidebook, will attempt to reveal this while also providing viable methods of travel to such places that aren’t just minority propaganda. While I realize that not every place makes a good travel stop, and often the nobody will tell you the bad places because they are bad; does not mean that  picking a couple carefully regulated locations and saying that they represent what is all of Inner Mongolia/the Mongol people is okay or valid. It would be as if the US government picked a route through golf course-like paths, called it the “wild” and had it lead to Disney World, then proceed to describe the whole thing as a “perfect representation of the the wonderful and diverse nation of the USA” and sold that to everyone that didn’t live in Florida.

Since I have limited resources on hand, and do not plan on paying money to increase that, I will be relying on several different travel sites located in the US and China. I will also be using various books from JSTOR archives as well as PDFs provided by Kerry Noonan to provide any needed background information on the areas mentioned.

My “US Source” will be Tripadvisor.com, they are a now worldwide travel agency that is based in Massachusetts. TripAdvisor offers ”trusted advice from  travelers” and has a wide network of business partnerships. As a further reassurance of reliability and “integrity“ TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 315 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 200 million reviews and opinions covering more than 4.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. These sites operate in 45 countries worldwide. As they are US based, and worldwide focused I hope that they prove to be more consumer propaganda oriented than China Approved propaganda oriented.

The other three sites that directly advertized the ability to visit mongolia as part of their itinerary are: ChinaHighlights.com, tour-beijing.com, and the TravelChinalGuide.com. China Highlights is a subsidy of China International Travel Service, a government turned private company. They promise a “non-consumer” travel guide of various “highlights” of China. Tour-beijing claims that they offer “tour packages” from Beijing to various places in and “near” beijing, which also includes all of Inner Mongolia. TravelChinalGuide is based out of Xian, China promotes “tours of excellence” and is a member of and has been ratified by many worldwide organizations.

 

One thought on “Inner Mongolia, the Government, and Tourism

  1. Patrick Mepyans

    The way that China treats it minorities was a little shocking to me. Not only because of how they treat them, but because of how similar it is to how Brazil treats their indigenous people. The most specific way was their treatment of tourism and a creation of fixed culture income. Where the minority is essentially thrust their culture upon them, and forced to act their part to get paid. The only difference between them is that the Brazilian government isn’t forcing this upon their indigenous. Instead the indigenous don’t really have any other way of making money for their tribes, so they were somewhat forced into this role. But the similarity is still very prevalent. Exploiting “strange and foreign” culture is a good way to attract tourist and make income. But at the same time it traps the minority in a state of flux. Instead of being people, they’re more like an attraction. Forced to remain behind in technology, because it’s the only way they know to make income.

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