Locations: Zhaoxing, Guizhou, China (25° 54' 39 N 109° 10' 35 E).
Date: 18 April 2005; 11.15am
Camera: Canon 300D with kit lens
The Dongs are one of the minorities predominant in Guizhou province of China. They are well-known for their Wind & Rain Bridge as well as Drum Tower. Unlike the big minorities, Tibetans of Tibet and Uighurs of Xinjiang, who were in fact the ethnic people of their provinces, Dongs were never an ethnic group of significant numbers. Ironically because of their smaller numbers, the Chinese Hans had been less zealous in trying to assimilate them into the Chinese culture, so to speak. In any case, as a result of their smaller numbers, they are more inclined to adapt to the Han culture. This is not to mean that they have abandoned their cultural heritage; however, the Dongs felt less threatened by the encroachment of Han into their space. Part of this is also economics- the Tibetans and Uighurs’ homeland are rich in many resources- the other minorities inherits less of such benefits. Managing the major minorities will continue to be a huge challenge for China until they realised and accept that the minorities are different and want different things (not chiefly development) from the central government.