Accepted paper:

Minorities in higher education in China: neoliberal interlocutions and the outcomes of policy


Naomi Yamada (Chuo University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I discuss so-called “preferential policies” for minorities in China, and explain how policy goals remain constant even as global economic trends affect the rules and organization of the structure.

Paper long abstract:

In China, preferential policies (youhui zhengce), which are sometimes compared to affirmative action in the US, take factors of ethnic affiliation into positive consideration. As it applies to higher education, such policies were originally intended to lessen educational and economic inequalities, and to provide equal opportunity. Chinese preferential policy measures, for example, allow for college preparatory programs to select minority students in China with scores below the regular cut-off point for college admission. The programs entail an additional 1-2 years of study, but ensure provisional college admittance. Policy, as understood in the domain in which it is operational, attains its own logic apart from legal measures. Agreeing with Andrew Arno, who differentiates rule from policy by noting that policy implies a reason, I argue that China's education policy is situated in a discourse of development, and its aims have remained constant even as shifts to a market-economy and incorporation of neoliberal elements have resulted in changes from free to fee for students eligible for preferential policy measures. The policy outcomes, however, ultimately privilege the benefit of the educational institution over rectifying or making restitution for continuing structural inequality.

panel P101
The future of law and globalization with anthropologies