The Chinese Communist Party stresses the regime’s role in presiding over the unity of China’s minzu (ethnic groups) and their shared stake in China’s prosperity. However, an examination of the quality of interactions between Han and ethnic minorities illustrates the regime’s vulnerability to counterclaims based on these lived experiences. This paper conducts a case study of Han–Hui relations to argue that physical separation between Han and Hui prevents the two groups from interacting in ways that transmit substantive knowledge about the differences between the groups. Instead, interactions perpetuate stereotypes and distrust. By continuing to push narratives about the unity of all groups and shared family relations, the state highlights the shortcomings of its own policies, and undercuts its own legitimating narrative.

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