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article imageChina reportedly uses two-tier system to deny minorities passport

By Brian Booker     Jul 13, 2015 in World
Human Rights Watch has accused the Chinese government of essentially blocking Tibetans and Uighurs from obtaining passports. The Chinese government does this by using an old, outdated passport application program in Tibet and Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch accuses China of essentially creating a two-tier system, ensuring that ethnic minorities who live in regions dominated by ethnic minorities are all but blocked from ever obtaining a passport. The old passport system still in use in these regions requires far more paperwork and time to process.
Chinese officials can also ask questions about politics and vet people who apply for a passport. Fewer that 10 percent of Chinese prefectures use the antiquated system, but nearly all of them are dominated by minorities.
Approval rates can be abysmally low. For example, a prefecture in Tibet that is home to approximately 650,000 people reported having approved only two passports in 2012.
While China is dominated by the ethnic Han majority, the country features numerous minority groups, and in some regions these minority groups comprise the bulk of the local population. Often, these regions were added to China through military conquest.
Tibet, for example, was annexed in 1950 following the conclusion of World War II and the Chinese communist party's seizure of most of mainland China. Tibet was annexed after a military invasion, and while China signed a 17 point agreement with the traditional Tibetan government, granting it autonomy, the Dalai Lama was all but forced into exile.
Xinjiang, on the other hand, has been a province of China since 1884. The region is dominated by Uighurs, most of whom are Muslim and speak a language closely related to Turkish. During the cold war, the nearby Soviet Union (now Russian Federation) encouraged the Uighur's to rise up and attempt to establish their own country. The restive Xinjiang province has seen sporadic outbreaks of violence ever since.
These regions, among others, are forced to use the antiquated passport system that makes it all but impossible for locals to secure passports. Those who apply can be flat out rejected without reason, and even those who do obtain a passport must often wait up to five years.
More about Tibet, Xinjiang, Dalai lama
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