Environmental Resettlement Policies in a Multi-Religious and Multi-Ethnic Context: The case of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia (China)

  • François ์N. Dubé Department of Economic Research, University of Ningxia, Yinchuan
  • Yang Hai Juan Department of Economic Research, University of Ningxia, Yinchuan
  • Huang Lijun Centre for Research on Economic Development of Western China, Department of Economic Research, University of Ningxia, Yinchuan
Keywords: environmental migration, China, ethnic minorities, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia


In China, one priority of public policy is the ostensible equality among ethnic groups, a principle which is reflected in the various forms of regional and local autonomy of areas with high concentrations of minorities. However, it appears that this principle is not fully respected by state institutions during the design and implementation of environmental migration and population resettlement projects in minority areas. Based on field surveys conducted in two migrant communities of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, we examine how the inclusion (or lack thereof) of the cultural factors of migrant populations is likely to influence the results of environmental migration projects. We find that including cultural and religious factors of migrants in the design phase of the resettlement project can promote successful integration of migrants. Thus, resettlement authorities should adopt an approach focusing on the needs of the migrant community, which is often essential for the success of the resettlement project itself.


Download data is not yet available.


Alashan Left Banner Municipal Government (2009). Alxa Right Banner Overview. Retrieved from http://www.als.gov.cn/main/

Banks, T., Richard, C., Ping, L. & Zhaoli, Y. (2003) Community-based grassland management in Western China rationale, pilot project experience, and policy implications. Mountain Research and Development, 23(2), 132-140. http://dx.doi.org/10.1659/0276-4741(2003)023[0132:cgmiwc]2.0.co;2

Bao, Z., (2006) The definition, category and some other issues about ecological migration. Journal of The Central University For Nationalities, (1), 27-39.

Cernea, M. (1997) The risks and reconstruction model for resettling displaced populations. World Development, 25(10), 1569-1588. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0305-750x(97)00054-5

Chandler, M. & Lalonde, C. (1998) Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in Canada’s first nations, Transcultural Psychiatry, 35(2), 191-219. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/136346159803500202

Chandler, M. & Lalonde, C. (2008) Cultural continuity as a moderator of suicide risk among Canada’s First Nations. In Kirmayer, L. and Valaskakis, G. (Eds.), Healing traditions: The mental health of Aboriginal peoples in Canada (pp. 221-248). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Chelidze, N. (2013) Asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Georgia: The challenges of social cohesion. Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 13/130, 7.

Chen, G. J. (2007) Strategic thoughts and suggestions of eco-migration in China. Decision and Consulting Letter, 5,1-4.

Dickinson, D. & Webber, M. (2007). Environmental resettlement and development on the Steppes of Inner Mongolia, PRC. Journal of Development Studies, 43(3), 537-561. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220380701204513

Dillon, M. (2000). China’s Islamic frontiers: Borders and identities. IBRU Boundary and Security Bulletin,8.

Duan, Y. & McDonald, B. (2004) Involuntary resettlement as an opportunity for development: the application of ‘resettlement with development’ in the People’s Republic of China (Working Paper No.14). Melbourne: Melbourne University

Fishman, R., Jain, M. & Kishore, A. (2013) Groundwater depletion, adaptation and migration: Evidence from Gujarat, India (Working Paper 41). International Growth Centre (IGC).

Foggin, J. M. & Torrance-Foggin, M. E. (2011) How can social and environmental services be provided for mobile Tibetan herders? Collaborative examples from Qinghai Province, China. Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice, 1(1), 21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2041-7136-1-21

Grushke, A. (2012) Tibetan pastoralists in transition. Political change and state interventions in nomad societies. In Hermann Kreutzmann (Ed.), Pastoral practices in high Asia. Agency of ‘development’ effected by modernisation, resettlement and transformation (pp. 273-289). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Gustafsson, B. & Sai, D. (2012) Assessing ethnic disparities in income and poverty in China: The case of Han and Hui in Ningxia. Paper presented at the 32nd General Conference of The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, Boston.

Gustafsson, B. & Sai, D. (2014) Why is there no income gap between the Hui Muslim minority and the Han majority in rural Ningxia, China? (IZA Discussion Paper, No. 7970), Bonn, Germany.

International Organization for Migration (2011). IOM Project Handbook. Switzerland: Geneva.

Liao, C., Morreale, S., Kassam, K. A., Sullivan, P. & Fei, D. (2014) Following the green: Coupled pastoral migration and vegetation dynamics in the Altay and Tianshan Mountains of Xinjiang, China. Applied Geography (46), 61-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2013.10.010

Liu, J., Yue, T., Ju, H., Wang, Q. & Li, X. (2005) Integrated ecosystem assessment of Western China. Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Research Institute of Forest Resource Information Techniques, CAF, Information Center, SEPA.

Liu, Y. H. & Wang, Q. (2001) Zhōngguó shìyí rénkǒu fēnbù yánjiū - cóng rénkǒu de xiāngduì fēnbù kàn gèshěng qū kě chíxù xìng [Suitable distribution of China’s population]. China Population, Resources and Environment, 11(1), 34-37 (in Chinese).

Lyle, J. (2012). Resettlement of ecological migrants in Georgia: Recent developments and trends in policy, implementation, and perceptions (Working paper No. 53). European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) Flensburg, Germany.

Ma, J. & Zhang, T. (2010). Research on environmental migration in China—Illustrated by the case of the Dongxiang County in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu. Journal of Gansu Normal Colleges, 2.

Merkle, R. (2003) Ningxia’s third road to rural development: Resettlement schemes as a last means to poverty reduction?. Journal of Peasant Studies, 30(3-4), 160-191. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03066150412331311269

Morrissey, J. (2008) Rural-urban migration in Ethiopia. Forced Migration Review: Climate Change and Displacement, (31) 28-30.

Shi, S. (2008) Living condition and social adaptation of Sanjiangyuan eco-migration: Taking case of eco-migration in Golmud city from Changjiang source. Tibetan Studies, 4, 93-102.

Song, N. P. (2000) Strategies for the ‘aid-the-poor’ migration program in Ningxia autonomous region. Human Geography, 15(5), 47-51.

State Council Development Research Center (2013). Èzhì sān dà shāmò “wòshǒu” kèbùrónghuǎn [It is Urgent to Control Desertification - Research Report of the Alxa League to Combat Desertification]. Resources and Environmental Policy Institute, "Desertification Control" Research Group. Retrieved from http://www.hbzyw.gov.cn/News.aspx?id=10911

State Ethnic Affairs Committee (2003). China Ethnic Work Yearbook 2003. Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House.

Tan, Y. & Liu, X. (2013) In-situ adaption and out-migration: Enablers and constraints among rural households of the mountainous region of Southern Ningxia, Northwest China. Paper presented at XXVII IUSSP International Population Conference, Busan, Republic of Korea.

Tan, Y., Zuo, A., Hugo, G. (2013) Environment-related resettlement in China: A case study of the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 22(1), 77-107, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/011719681302200105

Tang, H., Yang, D., Zhang, X. & Xiang, X. (2012) Ecological migration effects on the Tianchi Scenic Area in Xinjiang: From the perspective of migrant farmer families. Journal of Arid Land, 4(1), 95-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.3724/sp.j.1227.2012.00095

Tirtosudarmo, R. (2001) Demography and security: Transmigration policy in Indonesia. In M. Weiner and S. S. Russell (Eds.), Demography and National Security (pp. 199-227). New York: Berghahn Books.

Trier, T. & Turashvili, M. (2007) Resettlement of ecologically displaced persons: Solution of a problem or creation of a new? Eco migration in Georgia 1981–2006. ECMI Monograph, 72.

Wang, Z., Song, K. & Hu, L. (2011) Response to “Rethinking ecological migration and the value of cultural continuity.” AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment, 40(1), 100-101.

Wheatley, J. (2006) Defusing conflict in Tsalka district of Georgia: Migration, international intervention and the role of the state (Working Paper 36). European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI).

Wilmsen, B., Webber, M. & Duan, Y. (2011). Involuntary rural resettlement: Resources, strategies, and outcomes at the Three Gorges Dam, China. The Journal of Environment & Development, 20(4), 355-380. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1070496511426478

Zang, X. (2007) Ethnicity and urban life in China. A comparative study of Hui Muslims and Han Chinese. London and New York: Routledge.

Zheng, Y., Pan, J. & Zheng, X. (2013) Relocation as a policy response to climate change vulnerability in northern China. In ISSC/UNESCO (Eds.), World Social Science Report 2013 (pp. 234-242). Paris: OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264203419-34-en
How to Cite
DubéF. ์., Juan, Y. H., & Lijun, H. (2016). Environmental Resettlement Policies in a Multi-Religious and Multi-Ethnic Context: The case of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia (China). Social Science Asia, 2(1), 48-59. Retrieved from https://socialscienceasia.nrct.go.th/index.php/SSAsia/article/view/66
Research Article