Dong Desheng (‘Uncle Petrov’) – a member of China’s Russian minority nationality

You may know that China has 56 minority nationalities (sometimes erroneously called ‘ethnic groups’ by outsiders), and that it has the world’s most progressive policies for the minority groups – policies that come out of the socialist tradition and were originally developed in the Soviet Union.

But you probably do not know that one of the smallest of these nationalities is the Russian one. It numbers about 15,000 and they live mostly on the northeastern border along the Heilongjiang or Amur River. Most of them came over to China during the brutal Civil War after the Russian Revolution, but they are now very much part of China.

One member of the Russian minority nationity has made quite a name for himself on Chinese short video apps, such as Kuaishou and Douyin. His name is Dong Desheng and he provides snippets into daily life on the farm and with family. On screen, he is known to his more than 2 million followers as ‘Uncle Petrov’.

But let’s make on thing very clear: Dong Desheng is fully Chinese, speaks only Chinese (in the north-eastern dialect) and is proud to be Chinese.

You can find a story here, with Desheng stressing how much China’s positive policies for groups such as his have enabled his popularity.

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