Many white countries (defined as countries where the largest ethnic block is of European descent) have government programs that give special privileges to ethnic minorities.

Example 1: the United States (as well as other commonwealth countries) has affirmative action programs, which promote the hiring of people of African descent.

Example 2: Canada exercises special jurisprudence when sentencing Indigenous populations, in addition to preferential hiring in the public sector.

Are there any similar examples in non-white countries?

I've done my best to research this, and I've come up with a single case: India has a reservation system which promotes employment and education preference for Scheduled Castes (who are ethnic Indian, if I understand correctly) and Scheduled Tribes (who are not ethnically Indian).

Another potential example might be Fiji but I am having trouble finding sources for it.

I've also found two examples that are the direct opposite of what I was looking for:

Malaysia introduced the Malaysian New Economic Policy, giving economic preference to the Malay majority, and South Africa doing something similar via the Black Economic Empowerment Policy.

Are there any examples (historic or modern) of this outside of white countries? It does not necessarily need to be on a national scale.

  • 6
    Theoretically China does. There was a Q here about it. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/68131/… Commented Mar 28 at 5:59
  • 17
    Isn't apartheid South Africa the prime historical example? A minority had all the privileges.
    – Roland
    Commented Mar 28 at 9:48
  • 5
    The claimed dupe isn't all that much of a dupe. It's asking about affirmative action towards white people. Whereas this is asking about any minorities getting special treatments. Commented Mar 28 at 16:00
  • 7
    I understand Christian Armenians in Iran are allowed to make alcohol, although Iran is considered "white" under most, vague racial designation systems.
    – AdamO
    Commented Mar 28 at 21:24
  • 6
    @Roland but I don't think SA in that period could be considered a "non-white" country. The white population was indeed a minority but since they had all the power and controlled the state, I would argue that made the state a "white" country, despite the obvious demographics. So here we had the white population giving themselves privileges rather than a dominant non-white population giving some privileges to a minority.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 29 at 16:39

7 Answers 7


Taiwan is 90+% Han Chinese, but has a number of affirmative action policies for the local indigenous population, including racial quotas for public sector jobs.

Under the Indigenous Peoples Employment Rights Protection Act (原住民族工作權保障法), government offices have a quota for indigenous employees to meet or they must pay an exemption fee, it said, adding that this only applied for menial jobs.

The amendments to the law would mandate government offices to fill indigenous quotas across all categories of work, the council said.

However, government offices that have a valid reason for not meeting the quota would not have to pay an exemption fee, it said, adding that what constitutes a valid reason would be determined by an appropriate regulatory authority.

The proposed changes mandate that central government offices headquartered in an indigenous region must meet a 3 percent quota of indigenous employees, which is the proportion of indigenous people in the nation’s population, the council said.

  • 2
    And special weather forecasts.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Mar 28 at 23:26
  • 1
    BTW Indigenous in Taiwan means Austranesian , which I never knew. Commented Mar 29 at 15:39
  • 1
    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica: Austronesian
    – user103496
    Commented Mar 30 at 8:52
  • @user103496 You're right. Odd linguistic roots, I'd have thought austra (one word for South in Latin) drove this. My bad. Hah austro is also South, these are the 2 gendered forms. Commented Mar 30 at 16:31
  • 2
    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Not gendered forms. Austro- is the general combining form of auster ‘south’ in Latin (using the thematic vowel -o- as the binding vowel, which is basically the default in Latin and Greek). There’s no *austra-, but to auster you can add the suffix -ālis, which gives austrālis ‘southern’ (which shows up in ‘Australia’, ‘Australasia’, and indeed ‘austral’). Commented Mar 31 at 0:02

The "One Child Policy" of China was, at least in principle, not applied to members of ethnic minorities with fewer than 10 million people. That is to say, in principle, non-han Chinese could have had more children without penalty. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_China, and the links therein.

In practice the application of this privilege was inconsistent and depended on the minority being loyal to the CCP.

To put the question in context, you must remember that the reason for affirmative action etc is because these "white" countries had an exploitative relationship to much of the rest of the world. Other countries didn't engage in colonialism and chattel slavery in the same way.

  • 26
    "Other countries didn't engage in colonialism and chattel slavery in the same way. " Well, some didn't, but many did. Colonialism and slavery are hardly exclusive to white peoples. Commented Mar 28 at 23:09
  • 34
    The people who were colonized by Imperial Japan, the Ottoman Empire, etc., might not agree with your last sentence.
    – dan04
    Commented Mar 28 at 23:17
  • 3
    This answer could be improved by mentioning that ethnic minorities in the PRC also have advantages in the National College Entrance Examination, which is enormously important in Chinese society. It is discussed in the linked Wikipedia article, but so important that it deserves mention in this answer.
    – Matthew
    Commented Mar 28 at 23:31
  • 3
    "Other countries didn't engage in colonialism and chattel slavery in the same way" Do you mean to say on the same scale?
    – Vaelus
    Commented Mar 30 at 16:47
  • "Other countries didn't engage in colonialism and chattel slavery in the same way." What a grossly ignorant statement.
    – user76284
    Commented Apr 16 at 0:55

Malays in (Chinese-majority) Singapore enjoyed free secondary through tertiary education from 1960 to around 1990.


Brazil has a quota system for increasing access for underrepresented groups to public universities, which are generally higher-ranked than private ones. To achieve this, 50% of places are reserved for students from public schools. Within this quota, 25% of the total spots (based on the latest IBGE census) are further reserved for Black and Indigenous students, reflecting national demographics. Additionally, there are spots for students with disabilities and low-income backgrounds. This system has led to a positive trend in university representation for all groups.

It worths mentioning, however, this is NOT, BY ANY MEANS, A PRIVILLEGE, but a historical reparation policy.

  • 7
    I'm a bit puzzled by why you believe (and heavily emphasize) that "this is NOT, BY ANY MEANS, A PRIVILLEGE" (sic), yet chose to give this answer to a question that was explicitly about privileges.
    – user103496
    Commented Mar 30 at 8:55
  • 1
    Because the privillege itself is from white people that, historically, allways acessed the public universities alone. The black/indigenous presence on university is still minor, so this is not a privillege, but is a racial-specific REPARATION policy. Commented Mar 30 at 10:27
  • 1
    Before that system, even if black/indígenas people were 56% of the population here, they occuppied only 5-10% of the public places. That's white privillege. Commented Mar 30 at 10:29
  • 1
    Clearly a question of word definitions. In the local sense of A getting something that B doesn't get, it's a privilege. In the global sense of elevating A's status or quality of life or fair treatment quota above that of B, it's a drop in the bucket and still on the reparation side of the mountain. Commented Mar 30 at 18:04
  • There are similar quota schemes for public sector workers and election candidates.
    – sourcream
    Commented Mar 31 at 16:35

India provides special privileges to ethnic minority Muslims. There are other several such privileges to under developed communities such as scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.

  • 9
    Privileges such as... ?
    – Brian Z
    Commented Mar 28 at 23:21
  • 2
    The indian constitution has some provisions to safeguard the right of all religious minorities, and this isn't restricted to muslim minorities alone. These "special privileges" include personal laws, build and manage autonomous "minority" educational institutes, freedom to build and manage their reliious institutes etc.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Mar 29 at 5:45
  • 9
    This answer would benefit from being more specific and detailed.
    – whoisit
    Commented Mar 29 at 9:03

It really depends on how you define "white" and "privilege", but presumably any non-White country with blasphemy laws would count.

In many places, blasphemy laws only are applied to people who commit blasphemy against their own religion. Specifically, many of the countries with blasphemy laws apply Sharia law in such a case. Sharia law has some universal laws, but many laws are applied only to Muslims.

I know specifically in Iran (are they white?) non-Muslims can make and consume alcohol.

If you want to know specifically about affirmative action, you can look at the Wikipedia page. Just looking at their list of Asian countries, I can see, China, Israel (are they white?), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan (is it a country?).

  • 4
    "Many places" doesn't include Pakistan, the worse of the lot in that regard. On Friday, Pakistani police arrested two Christians accused of blasphemy, an incendiary charge in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam and its Prophet Muhammad can lead to murder at the hands of vigilantes. Commented Mar 29 at 17:51

The old Ottoman empire had a system of millets established in 1454 that allowed ethnic minorities certain rights and a degree of autonomy especially regrading family and religious law. Baskin Oran is his book Minorities and Minority Rights in Turkey:

... The Ottomans had no terminology directly corresponding to the contemporary concept of“minority.” Even so, they established the Millet system that assigned non-Muslims a position similar to what we would today refer to as minority status.

This system was inspired by a document, the Constitution of Medina that was issued by the Prophet Muhammad upon his migration to Medina in 622 CE, to regulate the relationship between the Muslim and non-Muslim tribes of Medina. It is important to note that this document had been issued well before the term minority had ever been voiced, some nine centuries before the concept emerged in 16C Europe ...

  • 5
    A more balanced citation might also look at Jizya, the non-believers taxation system. -1 for preachiness and ignoring this is on SE.Politics - current events - not SE.History. Commented Mar 29 at 17:20
  • 2
    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica in fairness, every revision of the question contains the final paragraph: "Are there any examples (historic or modern) of this" so while basically all of the other answers chose modern examples, historical ones do still address the question. Though you can argue that including historical examples doesn't fall into the purview of this site, I suppose Commented Mar 30 at 9:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .