Minzu University of China
|Minzu University of China|
|Religious affiliation||State Ethnic Affairs Commission|
|Admin. staff||1,991 (including academic staff)|
|Location||Beijing, Beijing Municipality, People's Republic of China
|Former names||Central University for Nationalities|
Minzu University of China (Chinese: 中央民族大学; pinyin: Zhōngyāng Mínzú Dàxúe) is a national-level university located in Beijing, China designated for ethnic minorities in China. Minzu University is the top university in China specially for ethnic minorities and aims to be one of the best universities of its kind in the world. With the strong support of Chinese government, it has developed rapidly over the years. It is currently one of the most prestigious universities in China in fields of ethnology, anthropology, ethnic economies, regional economics, religion studies, History, Dance and fine arts. The university has been selected as one of 38 national key universities to directly receive funding from Project 211 and Project 985, aspiring to build itself into a worldwide known leading university. It is commonly regarded as one of the most respected institutes for higher learning in China. It is colloquially known as Míndà in Putonghua. It was formerly known in English as the Central University for Nationalities (CUN).
The Chinese name has the meaning "central ethnic university", suggesting a national-level university focused on serving minority ethnic groups. The old English name translated the ethnic term as "nationalities", based on the term used in German and Russian language Marxist texts. On 20 November 2008, the university changed its official English name, apparently citing concerns that "central" might imply a location in the geographical centre of China (as it does in South-Central University for Nationalities), and the old name did not sound good. The name change of Renmin University has been cited as a precedent. The new name obscures the university's ethnic character, although student opinion has focused more on the fact that it makes obsolete the university's nickname, "the village". The Chinese word for village (Chinese: 村; pinyin: cūn) has a Hanyu pinyin spelling similar to the English abbreviation "CUN". In mainland Chinese culture, villages have homely connotations.
The university awards undergraduate-level degrees in 55 academic subjects, usually after four years of study. There are also 64 master's programmes and 25 doctoral programmes. While young people from the majority Han group are the largest single ethnicity amongst the fifteen thousand students, 60% of the students and more than one third of the academic staff are from other nationalities.
By far the strongest research areas are anthropology and ethnology, which are the mainstays of its small publishing house and journal. In 2001, the People's Daily described CUN as "China's top academy for ethnic studies."  Other respected departments are the dance school and the various minority language and literature departments. Other subjects are often studied from the ethnic minorities' perspective, e.g., biology courses may focus on the flora and fauna found in ethnic minority areas of China.
Minzu University also participates actively in social sciences research. Its social science departments predominantly do their research with an ethnic perspective and has achieved leading research results in China in ethnic economies, regional economics, legal studies in ethnic minorities regions, ethnic administration. In particular, its economics, management, law and history departments are growing into be dynamic research institutions with the help of Project 985.
The university is the pinnacle of a national network of institutions maintained by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, although academic standards are also monitored by the State Education Commission, which means some students end up sitting for two sets of exams.
The Communist Party of China first established a Nationalities Institute in its Civil War stronghold of Yan'an, in central China, in October 1941. In 1950-1952, this was merged with other ethnolinguistic and sociological departments, including elements of Peking University and Tsinghua University. The result was the Central Institute for Nationalities, which officially opened on 11 June 1952. The Institute was assigned a large area of parkland on the outskirts of Beijing as its campus.
Both the Yan'an and Central institutes were intended to train cadres (officials) for ethnic minority areas, as well as providing a liberal arts education for promising students from the minorities. Their research was and is intended to support the policies of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission. In its early years, the Institute was caught up in the sensitive issue of classifying China's vast population into official ethnic groups, until the Cultural Revolution made conventional education almost impossible.
With the advent of Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening up policy (c.1978), the Institute went through considerable changes. On the downside, it lost most of its campus to a variety of development projects and it is now in a heavily built-up area. Financial pressures in the early 21st century led to a rapid rise in student numbers, particularly of Han students.
On the upside, the Institute expanded into science subjects during the 1980s and achieved university status on 30 November 1993. In 1999 it was granted "key university" status as part of "Project 211", which was supposed to identify one hundred Chinese universities which would play leading roles in the 21st century. Since 2004 the university has been a participant in Project 985, a major national programme to raise 39 universities to world-class status. The campus has been almost completely reconstructed as part of this programme.
Meanwhile, Haidian has continued to develop as Beijing's main university district. CUN is now adjacent to the National Library of China and Zhongguancun, which local media refer to as "China's silicon valley". In 2006 a large site was acquired in Beijing's Fengtai district, and it is likely that a second campus will be constructed there.
Minzu University of China dominates one side of the Weigongcun (Chinese: 魏公村; pinyin: Wèigōngcūn) area, also home to Beijing Foreign Studies University and Beijing Institute of Technology. It has restaurants from a wide variety of ethnic minorities. According to Minzu University anthropology professor Zhuang Kongshao, the area has been the Uyghur ghetto in Beijing since the Yuan Dynasty, when it was known as Weiwucun ("Uyghur village", presumably Chinese: 维吾村; pinyin: Wéiwúcūn) and was a local shopping area. The Qing scholar Qiao Songnian claimed in 1834 that the Uyghurs had been brought there by Yuan Taizu. The name Weigongcun is first recorded only in 1915, and removes any reference to Uyghurs.  Others attribute the ethnic variety solely to the presence of CUN. Most of the Uyghur district was razed around 2001.
Notable students and faculty
- Erkin Abdulla, Uyghur-language pop singer
- Kahar Barat, Uyghur-American historian
- Fei Xiaotong, sociologist and anthropologist
- D. O. Chaoke, Evenki linguist
- Han Geng, Mandopop singer and actor
- Song Zuying, an ethnic miao singer of classical Chinese and Western songs, who performed at the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony
- Ilham Tohti, an ethnic Uyghur professor of economics at Minzu University who was detained by police in July 2009 following riots in Ürümqi
- Zhang Chengzhi, writer, once audited a class in Kazakh
- May Chin, Taiwanese Aborigine actress, singer and member for parliament in the Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for Highland Aborigines electoral district
Other universities for ethnic minorities in the People's Republic of China:
- Dalian University for Nationalities
- Guangxi University for Nationalities
- Northwest University for Nationalities
- Qinghai University for Nationalities
- South-Central University for Nationalities
- Southwest University for Nationalities
- Yunnan University for Nationalities
- Inner Mongolia University for Nationalities
- "中央民族大学关于启用新英文校名的通知". 中央民族大学桌报 Minzu University of China Weekly (in Mandarin). 忠言民族大学校报编辑部. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- "祭奠CUN" (in Mandarin). cunzone.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- "中央民族大学可能迁至丰台区校方尚未证实". People's Daily Online (in Mandarin). 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
- "Mistaken Identities? Focus on Cultural Heritage Protection in Xinjiang". China Heritage Newsletter. 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- "Xinjiang Street - Anthropologist's Paradise". People's Daily Online (citing China Daily). 2001. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- Laurence J. C. Ma and Biao Xiang (1998). "Native Place, Migration and the Emergence of Peasant Enclaves in Beijing". The China Quarterly (Cambridge University Press) (155): 546–581. JSTOR 655950.
- Uyghur Historian Kahar Barat Discusses Xinjiang History, Part 1, an English translation of Kahar Barat's interview by Wang Lixiong. (The Chinese original: 新疆的古代王朝与宗教转换, "The old kingdoms of Xinjiang and religious conversions")
- "Outspoken Economist Presumed Detained". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved July 12, 2009.
- "影响中国社科院博导的书籍 (Books which have influenced the professors at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)". Xinhua News Agency. 2004-03-15. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
- The Central University for Nationalities (undated, but c.2000). Beijing: CUN International Relations Office. A prospectus for Chinese and foreign students; the source for many of the dates and statistics in the first section.