This year's Joseph Levenson Book Prize goes to the 2021 work making "the greatest contribution to increasing understanding of the history, culture, society, politics, or economy of China."
PRC State Council White Paper, China's Ethnic Policy and Common Prosperity and Development of All Ethnic Groups, Sept. 27, 2009
I. A Unified Multi-Ethnic Country and a Nation with Diverse Cultures
II. Full Equality among Ethnic Groups
III. Consolidating and Developing the Great Unity of All Ethnic Groups
IV. Upholding and Improving Regional Ethnic Autonomy
V. Accelerating the Economic and Social Development of the Ethnic Minorities and Minority Areas
VI. Protection and Development of Cultures of the Ethnic Minorities
VII. Striving to Foster Cadres and Talented People of the Ethnic Minorities
We live in a world of diverse peoples. About 3,000 ethnic groups live in over 200 countries and regions in today's world. The overwhelming majority of countries are inhabited by multi-ethnic groups.
China is a unified multi-ethnic country jointly created by the people of all its ethnic groups. In the long course of historical evolution people of all ethnic groups in China have maintained close contacts, developed interdependently, communicated and fused with one another, and stood together through weal and woe, forming today's unified multi-ethnic Chinese nation, and promoting the development of the nation and social progress.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, following the guideline of unity among all ethnic groups for common prosperity and drawing on China's historical experience and the useful practices of other countries, always with a view to China's actual situation, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have carved out a path for the successful solution to ethnic issues with Chinese characteristics, exercised the ethnic policy featuring equality, unity, regional ethnic autonomy, and common prosperity for all ethnic groups, thus forming a relatively complete ethnic policy system.
This correct ethnic policy in line with China's actual situation has fostered the unity and harmonious coexistence of all ethnic groups who are striving with one mind for economic development, political stability, cultural prosperity and social harmony. The ethnic minorities, minority areas, and relationships among ethnic groups have all experienced tremendous historic changes.
I. A Unified Multi-Ethnic Country and a Nation with Diverse Cultures
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, some 56 ethnic groups have been identified and confirmed by the central government, namely, the Han, Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uyghur, Miao,Yi, Zhuang, Buyei, Korean, Manchu, Dong, Yao, Bai, Tujia, Hani, Kazak, Dai, Li, Lisu, Va, She, Gaoshan, Lahu, Shui, Dongxiang, Naxi, Jingpo, Kirgiz, Tu, Daur, Mulao, Qiang, Blang, Salar, Maonan,Gelao, Xibe, Achang, Pumi, Tajik, Nu, Uzbek, Russian, Ewenki, Deang, Bonan (also Bao' an), Yugur, Jing, Tatar, Derung, Oroqen, Hezhe, Monpa, Lhoba and Jino. The Han ethnic group has the largest population, while the populations of the other 55 ethnic groups are relatively small, and so the latter are customarily referred to as "ethnic minorities."
Over the past 60 years, the total population of the ethnic minorities has been on a constant increase, comprising a rising proportion in China's total population. The five national censuses that have been conducted show that the total population of ethnic minorities was 35.32 million in 1953, 6.06 percent of the total population; 40.02 million in 1964, 5.76 percent of the total; 67.30 million in 1982, 6.68 percent of the total; 91.20 million in1990, 8.04 percent of the total; and 106.43 million in 2000, 8.41 percent of the total. The populations of the ethnic groups vary greatly from one to another. For example, the Zhuang has a population of 17 million, far more than that of the Hezhe, numbering only some 4,000.
Some of China's ethnic groups inhabit vast areas, while others live in individual compact communities in small areas or live in mixture. In some cases, minority peoples can be found living in compact communities in areas inhabited mainly by Han people, while in other cases the situation is the other way round. Many minority peoples have part of their population living in one or more compact communities and the rest are scattered across the country. China's northwest and southwest are the two regions where minority peoples are most concentrated. Western China, consisting of nine provinces, three autonomous regions and one municipality directly under the central government, is home to 70 percent of China's minority population. The nine border provinces and autonomous regions are home to 60 percent of China's minority population. As China's economy and society continue to develop, the scope of minority population distribution is growing. So far, the scattered minority population across the country has topped 30 million.
In places where ethnic minorities live in compact communities, the minority populations are usually small, whereas the areas they live in are often large and rich in resources. The areas of grassland and forest, and water and natural gas reserves in areas inhabited by minority peoples account for nearly or over half of the national totals. Of China's over-22,000-km terrestrial boundary, 19,000 km traverses minority areas. In addition, the minority areas boast 85 percent of the country's state-level natural reserves, making them an important guardian of China's ecology.
The origins and development of ethnic groups in China are diverse, and have been shaped by local conditions. Some 4,000-5,000 years ago, five major ethnic groups -- the Huaxia, Dongyi, Nanman, Xirong and Beidi -- emerged on what is now the Chinese territory. Through continuous migration, living together, intermarriage and communication, the five ethnic groups became assimilated to each other in the course of their development, and gradually became integrated into one, from which new ethnic groups continually sprang up. Some of the latter remain distinct to this day, while others, including the once-renowned Xiongnu (Hun), Yuezhi (or Rouzhi), Xianbei, Rouran, Tuyuhun, Tujue, Dangxiang, Khitan and Saka peoples, have disappeared in the course of history due to wars, deterioration of the eco-environment or loss of identity.
Although the origins and histories of ethnic groups in China are different, the overall trend of their development was to form a unified, stable country with multiple ethnic groups. The boundaries and territory of today's China were developed by all ethnic groups in the big family of the Chinese nation during the long course of historical development. The ancestors of the Han people were the first to develop the Yellow River basin and the Central Plains; those of the Tibetan and Qiang peoples, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; those of the Yi and Bai peoples, southwestern China; those of the Manchu, Xibe, Ewenki and Oroqen peoples, northeastern China; those of the Xiongnu, Tujue and Mongolian peoples, the Mongolian grasslands; those of the Li people, Hainan Island; and the ancestors of the ethnic minority peoples of Taiwan, Taiwan Island.
As early as in the pre-Qin Dynasty times before 221 BC the concepts of "country" and "unification" had taken shape in the minds of the Chinese people. In 221 BC the Qin Dynasty unified the country for the first time. It set up an administrative system of prefectures and counties, and put the regions, including today's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province, where minority peoples were concentrated, under its jurisdiction. The subsequent Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) further consolidated the country's unification. It set up the Protectorate of the Western Regions in today's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and added 17 prefectures to govern the people of all ethnic groups there. In this way, a state with a vast territory, including today's Xinjiang where the ancestors of the various peoples lived, emerged. The Qin and Han dynasties created the fundamental framework of China as a unified multi-ethnic country.
The central governments of all dynasties following the Han developed and consolidated the unified multi-ethnic country. The Tang Dynasty (618-907) established the Anxi Protector-general' s Office and Beiting Protector-general' s Office to manage administrative affairs in the Western Regions, including today' s Xinjiang, and set up Dao, Fu and Zhou (equivalent to today' s province, prefecture and county) to administer the minority peoples in central-southern and southwestern China. The Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), established by the Mongols, appointed aboriginal officials or tuguan (hereditary posts of local administrators filled by chiefs of ethnic minorities) in the Fu and Zhou of the southern regions where minority peoples lived in compact communities. The central government set up the Commission for Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs under it and three Pacification Commissioner's Commanderies in Tibet, whereby Tibet was thenceforth brought under the effective administration of the central government of China. The Yuan also founded the Penghu Military Inspectorate for the administration of the Penghu Islands and Taiwan. Most of modern China's ethnic groups were subjects of the Yuan Dynasty. The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), founded by the Manchus, set up the Ili Generalship and Xin-jiang Province in the Western Regions, appointed Grand Minister Resident in Tibet and established the system of conferring honorific titles on two Living Buddhas -- the Dalai and Panchen -- by the central government. In addition, the Qing court carried out a series of political reforms in southwestern China, including the policy of gaituguiliu, i.e., appropriating the governing power of local hereditary aboriginal chieftains and setting up the system of appointment of local administrators by the central government in the minority areas. China's territory in the Qing Dynasty was basically the same as that of today.
Despite short-term separations and local divisions in Chinese history, unification has always been the mainstream and trend in the development of the country. The central governments of the various periods, whether they were founded by the Han people or minority groups, considered themselves as "orthodox reigns" of China, and regarded the establishment of a unified multi-ethnic state their highest political goal. The vast territory of China, the time-honored and splendid Chinese culture and the unified multi-ethnic country are all parts of the legacy built by all ethnic groups in China.
The long-standing existence of a unified multi-ethnic state in Chinese history greatly enhanced the economic, political and cultural exchanges among different ethnic groups, reinforced their allegiance to the central government and their identification with Chinese culture, and strengthened the cohesion force, vitality and creativity of the Chinese nation, giving rise to the unification and diversity of Chinese civilization. Traditionally, the Han people, accounting for the majority of China' s total population, mainly lived in the Central Plains on the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, where the mild climate and flat, fertile land were suitable for farming. The minority peoples mostly lived in peripheral areas, where the abundant grasslands, deserts, forests, plateaus, mountains, hills and lakes were favorable for stock raising, hunting and fishery. The "tea-horse" and "silk-horse" trade between the Han people in the Central Plains and the surrounding minority peoples satisfied the demand of the Han people for horses for use in agriculture, transportation and military affairs while catering to the needs of minority peoples for daily necessities, thereby boosting economic complementarity and common development. The Liao (916-1125), Jin (1115-1234), Western Xia (1038-1227), and Dali (937-1253) states, established by minority peoples in various parts of China, quite clearly drew on the experience of the Han rulers of various dynasties in government system and territorial control, and absorbed many elements of the Central Plains culture. The melodies and musical instruments of the Western Regions and regions beyond the Great Wall were continuously introduced to the Central Plains, and enriched and influenced the music there. As exchanges and fusion among various ethnic groups deepened, the distribution pattern of living together and complementing each other increasingly solidified the relationship of interdependence and common development.
For over a century from the first Opium War in 1840, China suffered repeated invasions and bullying by Western powers. On the verge of national subjugation and genocide, the destiny of all ethnic groups in China was linked more closely than ever before. At the critical moment when China faced the danger of being carved up, and when the nation was on the verge of being subjugated, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups united as one, and put up the most arduous and bitter struggles against foreign invaders in order to save the country. In the 19th century, Qing troops, supported by people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, wiped out the invading Yakoob Beg's forces of Central Asia' s Kokand Khanate and defeated the British and Russian invaders' plot to split China. Tibetan people and troops dealt a heavy blow to British invaders at the Battle of Mount Lungthur in 1888 and the Battle of Gyangtse in 1904. In the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression after Japan invaded China on September 18, 1931, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups shared bitter hatred of the enemy, and fought dauntlessly and unflinchingly. Many anti-Japanese forces with ethnic minorities as the mainstay, such as the Hui People's Detachment and the Inner Mongolia' s Daqingshan Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Contingent, made great contributions to China' s victory in that war. While resisting foreign invasions, the people of all ethnic groups fought unswervingly and succeeded in safeguarding national unity and territorial integrity against acts aimed at splitting the country, including plots for the "independence of Tibet," setting up of an "East Turkestan" in Xinjiang and the creation of a puppet state of "Manchukuo" in northeast China, hatched or engineered by ethnic separatists with the support of exterior forces.
In the anti-invasion and anti-separatist struggles of modern times, the inseparable relationship among all ethnic groups in China formed in history was further consolidated. All ethnic groups were bound closer together by a common destiny of sharing weal and woe, and felt a stronger sense of responsibility as creators of Chinese history. The common cultural and psychological characteristics of all ethnic groups in China became increasingly more mature and outstanding. Today, the Chinese nation has become a name with which all ethnic groups in China identify themselves and to which they give their allegiance.
II. Full Equality among Ethnic Groups
Equality among ethnic groups is a cornerstone of China's ethnic policy.
Full equality among ethnic groups is a constitutional principle of China. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the "Constitution") stipulates: "All ethnic groups in the People's Republic of China are equal." Based on this principle, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional Ethnic Autonomy (hereinafter referred to as the "Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy") and other laws and regulations make clear and detailed stipulations about equality among ethnic groups.
In China, the definition of full equality among ethnic groups includes three aspects: first, regardless of their population size, length of history, area of residence, level of economic and social development, differences in spoken and written languages, religious beliefs, folkways and customs, every ethnic group has equal political status; second, all ethnic groups in China have not only political and legal equality, but also economic, cultural and social equality; third, citizens of all ethnic groups are equal before the law, enjoying the same rights and performing the same duties.
With unremitting efforts throughout the past 60 years, China has basically established a legal system with Chinese characteristics to guarantee the equality of all its ethnic groups. The right to equality among all ethnic groups is ensured by law.
-- Freedom and rights of the person are inviolable. The Constitution and laws of China stipulate that the state respects and safeguards human rights. Violation of the freedom of the person of citizens of any ethnic group is proscribed; unlawful detention or deprivation or restriction of citizens' freedom of the person by other means is prohibited. The personal dignity of citizens of all ethnic groups is inviolable, and their rights of reputation, personal name and portrait are protected by law. Insult, libel, false charge or frame-up directed against citizens by any means is prohibited. Before the founding of the People' s Republic of China in 1949, about a million people lived under the slave system in the Yi-populated areas of Sichuan and other places, and about four million people lived under the serf system in Tibet and Xishuangbanna in Yunnan. The mass of ethnic minority people in these areas were vassals of feudal lords, nobles, temples or slave owners; they had no personal freedom and could be bought and sold, or given as gifts by their owners at will. In Tibet, for example, the Thirteen-Point Law and Sixteen-Point Law formulated in the 17th century and used for more than 300 years, divided the people strictly into three classes and nine grades. According to these laws, the value of the life of a top-grade person of the upper class was measured by the weight of his body in gold, while the value of the life of the lowest-grade person of the lower class, accounting for more than 95 percent of the total population of Tibet, was as cheap as a straw rope. In order to protect the human rights of the people in these areas, the new Chinese government pushed through democratic reforms there in the 1950s, eradicating the slave and serf systems. Serfs and slaves under the old system got their personal freedom and became masters of the new society.
-- All people are equal before the law. Every Chinese citizen equally enjoys the rights and equally performs the duties prescribed in the Constitution and laws; the legitimate rights and interests of every citizen are under equal protection, and any acts by any person in violation of the law must be investigated in accordance with the law, with equal application of laws. No one may have the privilege of being above the law. In order to guarantee the right of ethnic minorities to use their native spoken and written languages in legal proceedings, Article 11 of the Civil Procedure Law of the People' s Republic of China prescribes: "Citizens of all ethnic groups shall have the right to use their native spoken and written languages in civil proceedings. Where people of an ethnic minority live in a concentrated community or where a number of ethnic groups live together in one area, the people's courts shall conduct hearings and issue legal documents in the spoken and written languages commonly used by the local ethnic groups. The people's courts shall provide translations for any participant in the court proceedings who is not familiar with the spoken or written languages commonly used by the local ethnic groups." The Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Administrative Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China and the Organic Law of the People' s Courts of the People' s Republic of China have included similar stipulations.
-- All ethnic groups participate in state affairs administration on an equal footing. In China, the ethnic-minority and Han peoples participate as equals in the management of affairs of the state and local governments at various levels. Article 34 of the Constitution states: "All citizens of the People's Republic of China who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of ethnicity, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status, or length of residence." In addition, the laws provide other special guarantees for the rights of ethnic minorities to take part in the management of state affairs. The National People's Congress (NPC) and local people's congresses are the organs through which the Chinese people of all ethnic groups exercise state power. In accordance with the Electoral Law of the National People' s Congress and Local People' s Congresses of the People' s Republic of China, where the total population of an ethnic minority in an area is less than 15 percent of the total local population, the number of people represented by each deputy of that ethnic minority may be appropriately smaller than the number of people represented by each of other deputies to the local people' s congress, but ethnic minorities with exceptionally small populations shall each have at least one deputy. In all NPCs, the proportions of deputies of ethnic minorities among the total number of deputies have been higher than the proportions of their populations in the nation's total population in the corresponding periods. Of the 161 members of the 11th NPC Standing Committee held in March 2009, 25 were from ethnic minorities, accounting for15.53 percent of the total.
-- All ethnic groups enjoy freedom of religious belief on an equal footing. Freedom of religious belief in China means that every citizen has the freedom to believe or not to believe in any religion. Article 36 of the Constitution stipulates, "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion." The State Council promulgated the Regulations on Religious Affairs to put this constitutional principle into practice. In China, all normal religious activities, including those of ethnic minorities, are protected by law. Venues for religious activities are found all over China, basically satisfying the needs of religious believers. For example, there are over 24,300 mosques in Xinjiang and 28,000 Moslem clergymen. In Tibet, there are over 1,700 venues for Tibetan-Buddhist activities, with 46,000 monks and nuns living in temples. Traditional Buddhist activities are carried out there normally -- from sutra studies and debates to tonsure and abhisheka (consecration) and other Buddhist practices, as well as the system of academic degrees and ordination through examination. Prayer flags, Mani piles and Tibetan-Buddhist believers are seen everywhere in Tibet. Besides, the Chinese government also helps religious groups build seminaries to train clergymen of ethnic minorities, subsidizes the repairs of some religious venues in minority areas, and gives allowances to poor religious believers of ethnic minorities.
-- All ethnic groups in China have the right to use and develop their own spoken and written languages. "All ethnic groups have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages" is a provision of the Constitution. In the political activities of the state, such as important meetings held by the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), documents in Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Kazak, Korean, Yi, Zhuang and other ethnic-minority languages are available, and language interpretation between Han Chinese and these languages is provided. Besides Han Chinese, there are also inscriptions in Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur and Zhuang on China's RMB notes. The organs of self-government in ethnic autonomous areas all use one or more languages of their areas in their official activities. Ethnic-minority languages are widely used and developed in education, press and publications, radio and TV, film, Internet, telecommunications and many other fields of social life.
-- All ethnic groups have the freedom to preserve or change their own folkways and customs. It is clearly stipulated in the Constitution that all ethnic groups "have the right to preserve and reform their own folkways and customs." The state accords full respect to and effectively guarantees the practice of folkways and customs of ethnic minorities in clothing, decorations, food, drink, lifestyle, weddings, festivals, ceremonies and funerals. For example, in order to ensure that Muslims have access to their special diet, regulations on the supply and management of halal foodstuffs have been drawn up in 16 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government),including Beijing, Jiangsu and Xinjiang, as well as some major cities such as Guangzhou, Kunming and Chengdu. Other areas have also made relevant specifications in their comprehensive regulations. The rights of ethnic minorities to celebrate their own festivals are also ensured. The laws and regulations of China prescribe that people' s governments in the autonomous areas can enact their own holiday policies in accordance with the customs of the relevant ethnic minorities; ethnic minority workers can enjoy paid holidays when participating in their own major festivals and celebrations in the light of the relevant policies of the state. To prevent violations of the folkways and customs of ethnic minorities, China's laws and regulations make clear requirements for organizations and employees in the fields of press and publications, literature and art, and academic research. The Criminal Law of China has the provision of "crime of infringement upon the folkways and customs of ethnic minorities," and acts that infringe upon the folkways and customs of ethnic minorities will be investigated in accordance with the law.
In view of the gap between ethnic minorities and the Han people in social and economic development, citizens of ethnic minorities enjoy not only all civil rights prescribed by the Constitution and the law, but also some special rights and interests in accordance with the law.
China firmly opposes ethnic discrimination and oppression in any form. Any words or acts aimed at inciting hostility or discrimination against any ethnic group and sabotaging equality and unity among peoples are regarded as violations of the law. Any ethnic minority subjected to discrimination, oppression or insult has the right to complain to judicial institutions. China has joined the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and conscientiously performs the duties prescribed in the convention, making unremitting efforts together with the international community to build a world free from racial and ethnic discrimination.
III. Consolidating and Developing the Great Unity of All Ethnic Groups
Ethnic unity is China's fundamental principle in handling any ethnic issues as well as the core of the country's ethnic policies.
Maintaining the unity of all ethnic groups is particularly significant for China as a multi-ethnic country: First, the unity of all ethnic groups is an important guarantee for the unification of the country. The realization of the unity of all ethnic groups is the prerequisite for safeguarding the unification of the country, and preventing contradictions and conflicts among ethnic groups which could split the country and bring disorder to it. Second, the unity of all ethnic groups is an important prerequisite for social stability. Only such unity can stabilize and harmonize society, bring ease to the people's lives and work, and guarantee the country's long-lasting peace and safety. Third, the unity of all ethnic groups is an important guarantee for the development of all social endeavors. Only unity can concentrate the strength of all the ethnic groups for the construction and development of the country, promote economic and social progress and improve the Chinese people's lives.
The Chinese government and people attach great importance to the unity of all ethnic groups, and regard it as the supreme interest of all the Chinese people, and the fundamental guarantee for the realization of the prosperity and development of all China' s ethnic groups. For many years, all China's ethnic groups have steadfastly adhered to the concept that "the Han Chinese cannot live without the minority groups, which the minority groups cannot live without the Han Chinese, and no one minority group can live without other minority groups." In China, each citizen's fate is linked with that of the country, and each citizen is obliged to resolutely work for the unification of the country and the unity of all ethnic groups, determinedly oppose national separatism and voluntarily devote themselves to the construction of the country. The Chinese government and people firmly believe that the unity and friendship of all ethnic groups are utmost significant for the Chinese nation's vitality, strength and hope.
In China, ethnic unity includes the unity of the Han ethnic group with the minority ethnic groups, the unity among the minority ethnic groups and the unity of members of the same ethnic group. For maintaining ethnic unity, all China' s ethnic groups, in the big family of the unified motherland and on the basis of equality, are required to respect each other, trust each other, learn from each other and cooperate with each other. People of all ethnic groups breathe under the same sky and share the same destiny; they should care for each other, promote peaceful coexistence and harmonious development, continuously strengthen and develop socialist ethnic relations based on equality, solidarity, mutual assistance and harmony, devote all to the construction of socialist modernization, and make our country strong, our nation thrive and our people happy.
For many years, the state has adopted various methods to eliminate all factors adverse to the unity of all ethnic groups, and resolutely maintained this unity, striving to realize common prosperity and development through the concerted efforts of all China' s ethnic groups.
-- The state guarantees the legitimate rights and interests of all ethnic minorities. The state has employed legal, economic and administrative means to eliminate ethnic discrimination and estrangement left over from past, and promote unity and development. The state prohibits ethnic discrimination and oppression in any form, and bans any behavior aimed at undermining ethnic unity and causing ethnic antagonism. In the practice of maintaining ethnic unity, the state opposes both chauvinism of big ethnic groups, especially Han chauvinism, and local nationalism. The Chinese government has carried out many inspections on the implementation of ethnic policies across the country for guaranteeing their all-round implementation. With the development of the economy and society, the population flow of minority communities is becoming more frequent, increasingly characterized by urbanization and scattered settlement. To guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of minority peoples living in both urban areas and scattered minority communities, the state has promulgated the Regulations on Ethnic Work in Urban Areas, and Regulations on Administrative Work in Ethnic Townships to strengthen services and management in order to help minority communities develop production, improve their lives and meet their cultural and dietary needs.
-- The state adheres to and improves the system of regional autonomy for ethnic minorities. In line with its actual conditions, China practices the system of regional ethnic autonomy. This system has organically integrated centralization at the state level and regional autonomy in areas where ethnic minorities live in compact communities. It is a great creation in handling China's ethnic issues. The system of regional ethnic autonomy has played an important role in guaranteeing that ethnic minorities fully perform their roles as the masters of the country and that the ethnic relations are consolidated and developed on the basis of equality, solidarity, mutual assistance and harmony. For many years the state has guaranteed the full exercise of the self-government rights by the ethnic minorities, and respected and guaranteed their legitimate rights and interests.
-- The state is convinced that quickening the economic and social development of minority communities and minority areas is the fundamental solution to China's ethnic issues. Overcoming the difficulties and solving the problems in the minority areas hinges on development. For many years, the state has attached strategic importance to the development of ethnic minorities and the regions where they inhabit, and worked out guidelines and strategic arrangements in line with the realities of ethnic minorities in their different development stages to support the development of the ethnic minorities and the areas where they inhabit in policies, capital, human resources and technology. The state always takes raising the living standard of all ethnic groups as starting point and the ultimate goal of all the works, does its utmost to accelerate the development and carries it out in a down-to-earth manner, and strives to realize the common prosperity of all ethnic groups. Through persistent efforts, the working conditions and living standards of ethnic minorities and the minority areas have been greatly improved, and their standards of ethics, science, culture and health have been raised to a great extent.
-- The state constantly strengthens publicity and education in ethnic unity. It has included ethnic unity education in the whole process of ethical education for citizens and the whole process of socialist cultural and ideological construction. The government constantly conducts education among officials and masses of all ethnic groups about ethnic theory, policy, laws and regulations, and knowledge with focuses on the targeted audience and effect. Such publicity and education are not only targeted at ordinary people, but more so at officials; not only at officials of ethnic minorities, but more so at Han officials; not only at low-level officials, but more so at the leading officials. The state attaches special importance to carrying out education in ethnic unity among young people, and makes it a requirement to introduce ethnic unity education into schools and teaching materials in order to pass on this fine tradition from generation to generation. In 2008 the state promulgated the Outline on Education of Ethnic Unity in Schools (Trial). In 2009 the state decided to include the content of ethnic unity into the scope of examinations for primary school students, into the graduation examinations for junior high-school students entering senior high-school students, senior high-school students entering institutions of higher learning, as well as for those entering secondary vocational schools. The state also pays great attention to relevant training for those working in press and publishing, gives guidance and encouragement to them to correctly comprehend and actively publicize ethnic policies, laws and regulations and basic knowledge in this regard, and produce more and better works promoting unity of all ethnic groups and the unification of the country. Meanwhile, the state pays attention to strengthen management over publications, radio and TV programs and video-film products and the use of the Internet to bar any contents hurting ethnic feelings and damaging ethnic unity.
-- The state actively carries out activities to commend role models in promoting ethnic unity and progress of ethnic minorities. Since 1988 the state has held four national commendation conferences for promoting ethnic unity and progress, commended 4,993 role models from the 56 ethnic groups, including 2,474 exemplary entities and 2,519 exemplary individuals. Local governments at all levels also carry out such activities in various forms, including the "Ethnic Unity Month," formulate relevant commendation methods, set up role models, foster uprightness in the whole society; and create an environment of "honor to those safeguarding the ethnic unity and shame to those damaging the ethnic unity." The "Ethnic Unity Month" is carried out every May in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, September in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the Jilin Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, and July in the Guizhou Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture.
-- The state appropriately handles disputes and conflicts jeopardizing ethnic unity. The state adheres to the guidelines of unity, education, guidance and settlement of disputes or conflicts, analyzes and resolves such issues in a realistic way so as not to step up the disputes or conflicts. The state safeguards the dignity of law and protects the people's interests, and punishment will be meted out for any criminal offences regardless of the convict's ethnicity, religious belief in accordance with the law. In recent years, the central government and local governments at all levels have established permanent mechanisms and emergency response plans for handling issues jeopardizing ethnic unity, and appropriately and promptly resolve conflicts and incidents jeopardizing ethnic unity for the maintenance of the unity of all ethnic groups and social stability.
China's ethnic issues are strictly internal affairs of the country itself. The Chinese government resolutely opposes all foreign interference in the country's internal ethnic affairs under the excuses of "ethnicity," "religion" and "human rights." The country is determined, in accordance with the law, to guard against and crack down on any infiltration into China, sabotage and subversive activities against China conducted by forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism. History and reality have proved that if all ethnic groups in a country are united and treat one another with love, such a nation is bound to enjoy good administration, harmonious life and prosperity; if a country is full of ethnic conflicts and confrontations, such a nation is sure to suffer social unrest and bring calamity to its people.
IV. Upholding and Improving Regional Ethnic Autonomy
Regional ethnic autonomy is a basic policy China adopts to handle problems among its ethnic groups and a fundamental political system for this country.
China's regional ethnic autonomy means that under the unified leadership of the state, regional autonomy is exercised and organs of self-government are established in areas where various ethnic minorities live in compact communities.
The establishment of an autonomous area is determined by the relationships among its local ethnic groups, the economic development of the locality, and its historical background. At present, in the light of the size of population and areas where ethnic minorities inhabit, ethnic autonomous areas are divided into three levels, namely, autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties -- equivalent to the province, city with districts and county, respectively. People's congresses and people's governments of autonomous areas are organs of self-government, as well as the country's local power organs, implementing state laws and policies in accordance with local conditions. Regional ethnic autonomy is a self-government system under the unified leadership of the state. Every ethnic autonomous area is an inseparable part of the country. Organs of self-government in ethnic autonomous areas must follow the leadership of the central government.
The implementation of regional ethnic autonomy is an inevitable choice for China when it takes into account history, national conditions and the will of the people. First, as far as history and traditions are concerned, the long-term existence of a unified multi-ethnic country is the historical background for implementing regional ethnic autonomy. Second, as far as ethnic relationships are concerned, the Chinese people consist of multi-ethnic groups, and the close and extensive ties among them are the economic and cultural base for the implementation of regional ethnic autonomy. Third, as far as the distribution of ethnic groups are concerned, the reality that some ethnic groups live together over vast areas while others live in individual concentrated communities in small areas, and the natural, economic and cultural diversity and supplementation are the actual conditions for enacting the system of regional ethnic autonomy.
The implementation of regional ethnic autonomy is beneficial to combining the country's centralism and unification with the freedom and equality of ethnic groups, integrating state laws and policies with actual conditions and specific circumstances of ethnic autonomous areas, uniting the goal of building a wealthy, democratic, civilized and harmonious country with the unity, progress, prosperity and development of ethnic peoples, and linking ethnic peoples' love for the motherland with their love for their ethnic group. In the unified big family, China's various ethnic groups live together in peace, work together with one heart and mind and develop together in a harmonious manner, while giving full rein to their respective strengths and advantages.
Over many years, the Chinese government has all along upheld regional ethnic autonomy, constantly improved it as the time becomes ripe, making remarkable achievements in this regard.
Ethnic autonomous areas have been established across the country. As early as 1947 before the founding of the People's Republic of China, under the leadership of the CPC, the country's first provincial-level ethnic autonomous region -- the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region -- was established. After the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, in accordance with stipulations in the Constitution and relevant laws, the Chinese government began to introduce the system of regional autonomy in minority areas. In October 1955, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was established; in March 1958, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was established; in October 1958, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was established; and in September 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was established. By the end of 2008, China had in total 155 ethnic autonomous areas. Of these, there were five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (banners). According to statistics revealed in the fifth national census, conducted in 2000, of the country's 55 ethnic minorities, 44 had their own autonomous areas. The population of ethnic minorities practicing regional autonomy accounted for 71 percent of the total population of ethnic minorities, and the area where such regional autonomy was practiced accounted for 64 percent of the entire territory of China. In addition, China had established 1,100 ethnic townships, as a supplement to the system of regional ethnic autonomy.
The legal system of regional ethnic autonomy is being constantly improved. The Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), passed by the CPPCC in 1949, actually served as a provisional constitution. It defined the system of regional ethnic autonomy as a basic policy of New China. In 1952, the Central People's Government issued the Program for the Implementation of Regional Ethnic Autonomy, which included clear provisions on such important issues as the establishment of ethnic autonomous areas and the composition of organs of self-government, as well as the right of self-government for such organs. In 1954, the Constitution adopted by the NPC institutionalized the system in the form of basic law, and has ever since adhered to this system. In 1984, on the basis of summing up the experience of practicing regional ethnic autonomy, the Second Meeting of the Sixth NPC adopted the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy. As a result, the country's system of regional ethnic autonomy has become more complete in terms of policy, system and law. The Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy is the basic law in the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Constitution. It defines the relationship between the central government and the ethnic autonomous areas, as well as the relationship among different ethnic groups in ethnic autonomous areas. Its legal effect is not limited to ethnic autonomous areas only; every individual in China and all state organs must abide by and implement this law. In 2001, in consideration of actual conditions when the socialist market economy was established, the Standing Committee of the NPC made revisions to the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy. The Provisions of the State Council on Implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, issued by the State Council in 2005, define the duties of governments at higher levels to support and help the organs of self-government in ethnic autonomous areas.
Ethnic autonomous areas effectively exercise the right of self-government. The self-government organs in ethnic autonomous areas are the people's congresses and people's governments of autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties. These organs have the following rights under the law:
-- Independent management of the ethnic group's internal affairs in its autonomous area. People of various ethnic origins in autonomous areas are entitled to vote and stand for election, as provided for in the Constitution and other laws, and, by electing deputies to the people's congresses at various levels and establishing self-government organs, exercise their democratic rights to manage the internal affairs of their own ethnic groups and their autonomous areas. The chairmen and vice chairmen of the standing committees of the people's congresses of all 155 ethnic autonomous areas in China are citizens of the ethnic groups exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned. The heads of all autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties are all citizens of the ethnic groups exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned. Other members of the people's governments of the autonomous areas include an appropriate number of members of the ethnic group(s) exercising regional autonomy as well as members of other ethnic minorities. The functionaries of the working departments subsidiary to the organs of self-government are composed in a similar fashion.
-- Enjoyment of the right to formulate autonomous regulations and separate regulations. The Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy stipulates that, besides enjoying the same rights as other local state organs, people's congresses in autonomous areas have the right to enact autonomous regulations and separate regulations in the light of the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the ethnic group or ethnic groups in the areas concerned. The Legislation Law of the People's Republic of China stipulates that the autonomous regulations and separate regulations may contain provisions which have been adapted on the basis of existing laws or administrative regulations to suit the particular conditions of the ethnic group concerned. By the end of 2008, the ethnic autonomous areas had formulated 637 autonomous regulations and separate regulations, as well as adapted or supplemented regulations to relevant laws. In the light of the particular situation in each area, the ethnic autonomous areas have adapted related provisions in several laws, including the Marriage Law, Inheritance Law, Election Law, Land Law and Grassland Law, or provided supplementary regulations to such laws.
-- Independent arrangement, management and development of economic construction. Organs of self-government of autonomous areas are entitled to, in accordance with legal provisions and the characteristics of local economic development, rationally adjust the relations of production and economic structure of the said areas, manage enterprises, public institutions under their jurisdiction, manage and protect their local natural resources in accordance with the law, and manage local finance. The self-government organs of all ethnic autonomous areas formulate their own plans and measures for economic and social development, and arrange their own infrastructure projects by following the guidance of the overall state plan for national economic and social development, while at the same time taking into consideration local conditions. Ethnic autonomous areas may, in accordance with the relevant state provisions, open ports for foreign trade after obtaining approval from the State Council. Ethnic autonomous areas may enjoy state preferential policy treatment as regards foreign trade.
-- Independent development of cultural and social undertakings. The self-government organs of ethnic autonomous areas may determine their educational plans, establishment of schools, educational system, forms by which schools are run, curricula and methods of enrollment, in accordance with the principles concerning education and legal provisions of the state. The self-government organs of ethnic autonomous areas may independently develop cultural undertakings with ethnic characteristics, including literature, art, news, publishing, radio and TV broadcasting, and movies. They may organize relevant entities to collect, edit, translate and publish books related to the history and culture of the ethnic groups; to protect scenic spots, historical sites, valuable cultural relics and other important aspects of the local cultural heritage; and to inherit and carry forward the traditional culture of ethnic groups.
V. Accelerating the Economic and Social Development of the Ethnic Minorities and Minority Areas
Adhering to common prosperity and development of all ethnic groups is the fundamental stance of China's ethnic policy.
The Constitution stipulates, "The state does its utmost to promote the common prosperity of all ethnic groups in the country." The Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy stipulates that it is a legal obligation of the higher-level state organs to help the minority areas accelerate their development. Over the years, the state has made it a major part of national development to promote the economic and social progress of the ethnic minorities and minority areas, and has worked out from time to time policies and measures to this end.
Before the founding of New China in 1949, most minority areas had an extremely low level of productivity, backward economic and social development, and extremely poor infrastructure. There was not an inch of railway in Xinjiang, not a single highway in Tibet, and in mountainous Yunnan, horses, elephants and suspension cables were all the locals could rely on for traveling or carrying goods. People of the ethnic minorities engaged mainly in traditional agriculture and animal husbandry. Some places were still in the primitive "slash-and-burn" state. In some areas, people still used wooden and stone tools; and iron tools were not yet widespread. The ethnic minorities led a life full of misery. Life was even worse for those living in the mountainous and desert areas, where a dearth of food and clothing was common. For months almost every year they would run out of grain and had to survive on wild fruits, and in the harsh winter they had nothing to keep out the cold but straw capes. All this hindered the progress of the ethnic minorities. Some of them were on the verge of extinction, with the Hezhen numbering only some 300 people at the time of the founding of New China. It was on such an extremely backward basis that the social and economic construction of the ethnic minorities and minority areas began in New China.
The CPC and the central government have always supported the development of the ethnic minorities and minority areas. When New China was established, the Chinese government made it a basic task to rid all ethnic groups of poverty and enable them to lead a better life. Since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies in the late 1970s, the state has focused on economic construction, given top priority to development, made increasing efforts and carried out several significant measures to quicken the advance of the ethnic minorities and minority areas. Over the years, the ethnic minorities and minority areas have all along upheld the spirit of self-reliance and hard working, coupled with assistance from economically advanced parts of China and state preferential policies, striven to build better homes for themselves. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the entire nation, the ethnic minorities and minority areas have seen one leap forward after another in their economic and social progress, completely got rid of stark poverty and backwardness, and entered a stage unparalleled in history.
Priority given to construction projects to consolidate the foundation for further development
In the early days of New China, the state gave top priority to infrastructure construction in the minority areas. In 1952 the central government issued the Principles of the Five-year Construction Plan for the Minority Areas, involving the construction of rails and trunk roads, the repair of existing roads and bridges, and the building of postal, telegraph, telephone and other communication systems in some minority areas. During China's First Five-year Plan period (1953-1957), the state started the construction of eight trunk railways, five of which, including the Lanzhou-Urumqi and Baotou-Lanzhou lines, were in minority areas or linked them with other places. In 1954 the two world-renowned highways connecting Tibet with Sichuan and Qinghai were completed. In the 1960s more railways were built, including the Chengdu-Kunming, Changsha-Guiyang and Panzhihua-Liuzhou lines, and the Yunnan-Tibet highway was also completed. In 1962 the Lanzhou-Urumqi railway line, the first railway line in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, reached Urumqi. Since the late 1970s a large number of key projects have been completed in the minority areas, including the Nanning-Kunming, Neijiang-Kunming and Southern Xinjiang railway lines, Lhasa Airport, the Lanzhou-Xining-Lhasa optical cable, and the project for utilizing water from the Yellow River for irrigation in Ningxia, which have greatly improved the transport and communication conditions and the livelihood in those minority areas.
The state has made the development of local advantageous resources and modern industry a major measure to promote the advance of the ethnic minorities and minority areas. During the First Five-year Plan period, 40 of the 156 large state construction projects were initiated in the minority areas, such as the Baotou iron and steel base in Inner Mongolia, the Karamay oilfield in Xinjiang and the Gejiu tin company in Yunnan. In the 1960s the state moved a host of large industrial enterprises from coastal areas and inland places to the minority areas, thus laying the foundation for modern industry in the latter. Since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policies, the state again has approved a large number of massive projects in the minority areas, such as the Tarim oilfield in Xinjiang, the aluminum plant in Pingguo, Guangxi, the potash fertilizer plant in Qinghai and the coal and electric power base in Inner Mongolia, leading to the formation of several important industrial bases for resources development and processing in these minority areas, and blazing a trail for industrialization based on local resources and with local characteristics.
Since 2000, when China introduced the strategy of large-scale development of its western regions, the state has made it a top task to accelerate the development of the ethnic minorities and minority areas. To ensure that they get tangible benefits, the state has adopted many preferential measures, such as giving priority to these areas when arranging resources development and processing projects, giving compensation to minority places that export natural resources, guiding and encouraging enterprises from economically advanced areas to invest in these places, and increasing financial input and support to them, so as to enhance their economic strength. At present, all of China's five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties nationwide are either covered by the "Develop the West" campaign, or enjoy the same preferential policies as the western regions.
The "Develop the West" campaign has brought about visible profits to the minority areas. By 2008 the accumulated fixed assets investment in these areas amounted to 7,789.9 billion yuan. Of that, 1,845.3 billion yuan was invested in 2008, which was five times that in 2000 and a rise of 23.7 percent on an annual basis. Key projects for transmitting gas and power from the west to the east have been completed, and a number of infrastructure projects, such as airports, expressways and water conservancy hubs, have been built. In 2007 the Qinghai-Tibet Railway was extended to Lhasa, giving a rail connection to Tibet for the first time in its history. A rapid, economical, all-weather transport channel of massive capacity between Tibet and the outside world, the railway has fundamentally changed the backward transport situation in the region, and added wings to the impending economic take-off of Tibet.
The central government requires that when planning infrastructure projects located in the minority areas the local government either be exempted from contributing capital or contribute less; when developing resources or building enterprises in these areas, due consideration be given to local interests and the production and life of the ethnic minorities; and appropriate compensation be granted to places exporting natural resources or doing their bit for the eco-balance and environmental conservation. In 1994 the state adjusted the ratio between the amount of capital from the central budget and that from autonomous region governments to 6:4, while the ratio between the central government and the government of other provinces was fixed at 5:5.In 2004 the state adopted the compensation mechanism for ecological construction and environment protection. When tapping the rich oil and gas resources in Xinjiang, attention is paid to the stimulation effect on local development. The West-East Gas Transmission project alone can bring in over one billion yuan of revenue to Xinjiang a year.
Poverty being the key issue to tackle to ensure and improve the well-being of the people
Over the years, the state has adopted a series of policies and measures to relieve the poverty the ethnic minorities suffer. In the 1950s, the state provided free medical services to poor people of the ethnic minorities, granted them loans and farming tools, helped them set up schools and conducted social relief. In 1983, the State Council held a national meeting on production and livelihood in the minority areas, which decided to basically solve the problems of food and clothing, housing and drinking water within a short time. Since 1990 the state has set up a fund to assure the basic needs of people living in poverty-stricken minority areas, and 141 impoverished counties were listed as the first batch to gain this support. In 1994 the Seven-year Poverty Alleviation Program (a program designated to lift 80 million people out of absolute poverty in the seven years 1994-2000) was carried out, and, with the assistance threshold lowered, 116 more poverty-stricken minority counties were covered by state preferential policies. In 2001 the Outline of Rural Poverty-relief Development was implemented, with ten more minority counties included, and Tibet as special region covered. In 2005 the comprehensive development of poor minority villages became the focus of national poverty-relief efforts. In 2007 the state formulated the 11th Five-year Plan for the Development of the Ethnic Minorities, containing 11 key projects. In 2009 the state announced new standards for poverty-relief work, and expanded the coverage to low-income rural people in the minority areas. Other efforts include: providing work as a form of relief, relocating people from places with poor conditions, building settlements for formerly nomadic people, repairing dangerous housing for rural residents, supplying safe drinking water in rural areas, and providing minimum living allowances to rural and urban residents. Thanks to continuous efforts in these endeavors, the impoverished population in the minority areas shrank from some 40 million in 1985 to 7.7 million in 2008.
Because of differences in history, culture, customs and religion, some ethnic minorities have special needs. For instance, the Tibetan, Mongolian, Uyghur and Kazak herdsmen need saddles, riding boots and brick tea, and the Muslims have their own special needs for Halal foods. To show respect for minority cultures and satisfy these special needs, the state has worked out preferential policies for the production of and trade in these items. In 1963 the state introduced preferential policies for ethnic-minority enterprises regarding profit retention, self-owned funds and price subsidies. In 1997 it enacted new preferential policies, set up special loans with discounted interest and exempted some enterprises from paying added value tax, benefiting 1,760 designated producers of special commodities needed by the ethnic minorities. In 1991 a mechanism for national brick-tea reserves was established to guarantee the supply of brick tea. In 2007 the state established a fund to ensure the production and promotion of the special commodities needed by the ethnic minorities, as well as related personnel training.
Priority is also given by the state to improving medical and health care for the ethnic minorities and in the minority areas. The level of medical services in minority urban areas has been remarkably enhanced, the medical conditions in agricultural and pastoral areas have been noticeably improved, the difficulty of the ethnic minorities in getting adequate medical service has been alleviated, and the health of the ethnic minorities been improved considerably. Since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policies, the state has built or renovated township hospitals, and county-level epidemic-prevention stations and health centers for women and children, thus greatly improving the health-care services in the minority areas. More than 80 percent of the counties in Tibet now have epidemic-prevention stations. The state is making continuous efforts to prevent and treat endemic and epidemic diseases in the minority areas, and the once-prevalent Keshan disease, tuberculosis and Kaschin-Beck disease have been basically put under control. Through various channels, the state has trained health care workers for the ethnic minorities, and expanded the contingent of medical professionals. In Xinjiang one third of all medical workers are from ethnic minorities.
China's major pasturelands are all located in areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities, and animal husbandry has been the basic industry for most or part of the Mongolians, Tibetans, Kazaks and a dozen other ethnic minorities since ancient times. Since 1953 a milder taxation policy than in cities and farming areas has been enforced in the pasturelands, in addition to policies encouraging pasture protection and the settlement of nomadic people. After China began its reform and opening-up, the state adopted policies that allowed households to own livestock and contract pastures for independent operation. At a national work conference for pastoral areas held in 1987 the State Council listed 27 poverty-stricken pastureland counties as eligible for state assistance, and granted poverty-relief loans with discounted interest to support the pasturelands. To ensure the balanced development of animal husbandry and agriculture, in 1999 the Chinese government stressed that equal emphasis should be placed on grassland construction and farmland capital construction. In 2005 the state abolished taxes on agriculture and animal husbandry. After decades of unremitting endeavors, the minority areas have grown into important production bases of agricultural and animal products. Inner Mongolia now produces one fifth of the nation's total milk, ranking first in China in milk production, and Xinjiang is the country's second-biggest producer of wool and cashmere.
Most of China's borderlands are inhabited by ethnic minorities. In 1979 the state worked out the Borderlands Construction Plan (Draft), allocating 40 billion yuan for the construction of these areas over eight years. In 1992 China implemented its frontier opening-up strategy, designating 13 open cities and 241 first-grade open ports, and establishing 14 border economic and technological cooperation zones. In 1996 the State Council worked out preferential policies for promoting border trade and economic cooperation with other countries. In 1999 the state initiated a program to boost the borderlands' economy and help the local residents raise their incomes. This was followed by the formulation and execution of the 11th Five-year Plan for the Economic Development of the Borderlands, starting in 2005. In 2009the government decided to expand the program to all frontier counties and the frontier farms under the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. So far, the central government has invested 1.446 billion yuan and built more than 20,000 projects in the borderlands.
For decades the state has paid steady attention to the construction and protection of ecological environment in the minority areas. Especially since the launch of the "Develop the West" campaign, a series of policies and measures have been executed, including prohibiting tree felling on the upper reaches of major rivers, returning farmlands to forests and grasslands and closing hillsides for afforestation. As compensation, the state has distributed grain to farmers and herdsmen to make up for their losses in returning their farmlands to forests or grasslands, and subsidies to places where revenue has shrunk because of the restriction on tree felling.
In recent years, the Chinese government has increased its support for the sparsely-populated minority areas with poor conditions. In 2005 it formulated and implemented the Program to Support the Ethnic Minorities with Small Populations (2005-2010), and listed 640 ethnic-minority villages as recipients of assistance. So far, 1.253 billion yuan has been forthcoming for these areas from the central government.
Constantly increasing financial support and actively organizing paired-up assistance
Over the past 60 years both the central and local governments at all levels have gradually increased their efforts to extend fiscal transfer payments to the minority areas. In the 1950s the state began to implement preferential fiscal policies for these areas, such as "unified collection of revenues and allocation of expenditures and subsidies for the needy," and raising the proportion of the financial reserve fund (two percentage points higher than in other regions). From 1980 to 1988 the central financial authorities adopted a quota subsidy system with a yearly increase of ten percent for the five autonomous regions and the three provinces with large ethnic-minority populations -- Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai. In 1994 the state began to adopt a tax-sharing system, and introduced the system of policy-related transfer payments to the minority areas. In 2000 China initiated transfer payments for the minority areas on top of the general transfer payments and special-fund transfer payments as prescribed by relevant regulations. From 1978 to 2008 the total transfer payments by the central financial authorities to the minority areas totaled 2,088.94 billion yuan, with an annual increase of 15.6 percent. In 2008 alone the amount was 425.3 billion yuan, making up 23.8 percent of the nation's total transfer payments.
According to incomplete statistics, from 1959, when democratic reform began in Tibet, to 2008, fiscal assistance from the central budget to Tibet reached 201.9 billion yuan, with an annual increase of nearly 12 percent; from 1955, when the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was established, to 2008, the fiscal assistance from the central budget to Xinjiang reached 375.202 billion yuan, with an annual increase of 11 percent, the sum in 2008 being 68.56billion yuan.
In addition, the state has also set up a variety of special funds to help resolve the difficulties encountered by the minority areas and accelerate their development, including education development subsidies for the ethnic minorities set up in 1951, minority area subsidies set up in 1955, the minority-area reserve fund set up in 1964, subsidy for border construction set up in 1977, fund for aiding economically under-developed areas set up in1980, and fund for the development of the ethnic minorities set up in 1992.
The state vigorously organizes and encourages paired-up assistance between the economically developed areas and the less-developed minority areas. In 1979 it decided to pair up such areas, for example, getting Beijing to assist Inner Mongolia, Hebei to assist Guizhou, Jiangsu to assist Guangxi and Xinjiang, Shandong to assist Qinghai, Shanghai to assist Yunnan and Ningxia, and the whole nation to assist Tibet. In 1996 the State Council determined to organize the 15 developed provinces and cities along the eastern coast to provide aid to 11 western provinces (autonomous regions and municipality directly under the central government), and mobilized all departments of the central government to provide pair-up aid to the impoverished areas. In order to promote the development of Tibet, the central government has held four forums on work in that region. Since 1994 the state has arranged more than 60 central government departments, 18 provinces (municipalities directly under the central government) and 17 state-owned enterprises to provide paired-up aid to various places in Tibet. By the end of 2008, a total of 6,050 assistance projects had been launched in Tibet, with a total of 11.128 billion yuan in assistance money.
In recent years the state has further strengthened its efforts to aid the ethnic minorities and minority areas under the guidance of the Scientific Outlook on Development. In 2005 the CPC Central Committee and the State Council jointly issued the Decision on Further Strengthening the Work on the Ethnic Minorities and Promoting Social and Economic Development in the Minority Areas, which stipulated that development is the key to overcoming difficulties and solving problems in the minority areas, and stressed that, with the gradual increase of the country's comprehensive strength, the central government would continuously strengthen support to the ethnic minorities and minority areas in their social and economic development, improve the policy-related transfer payment system compatible with the system of regional ethnic autonomy, help the minority areas build infrastructure projects that will give an impetus to local social and economic development and give special treatment to small and medium-sized public welfare projects that are closely related to the everyday life of local people. In 2007 the State Council released Some Opinions on Further Promoting Social and Economic Development in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which contained requirements and plans to accelerate the social and economic development of Xinjiang and further improve the living standards of the people of all ethnic groups there. Since 2008 the state has drawn up and issued a series of preferential policies to promote the social and economic development of the Tibetan-inhabited areas in Ningxia and Qinghai and the border areas of Yunnan, increasing input to strengthen the building of infrastructure, develop competitive industry, push forward the development of social undertakings and accelerate the social and economic development of the minority areas there.
Under the central leadership and with the full support of the whole nation and the strenuous efforts made by the people of all ethnic groups in the minority areas, great achievements in social and economic development have been scored in the minority areas, and people's living standards there have markedly improved. In 2008 the economic aggregate of the minority areas reached 3,062.62billion yuan, from 5.79 billion yuan in 1952, an increase of 92.5 times calculated at comparable prices. The urban per-capita disposable income increased to 13,170 yuan from 307 yuan in 1978, an increase of over 30 times; and the per-capita net income of farmers and herdsmen came to 3,389 yuan from 138 yuan in 1978, an increase of 19 times. The economic growth rate of Inner Mongolia has ranked top in the country for seven consecutive years, and Xinjiang has maintained double-digit growth for six years in succession. In the same year, the GDP of Tibet stood at 39.591 billion yuan, an increase of 65 times compared with 1959.
The rapid economic and social development in the minority areas has laid a solid foundation for the prosperity of all ethnic groups. According to the national census of 2000, the average life expectancy of 13 ethnic minorities was above the average national level of 71.40 years, and seven above the average Han level of 73.34 years. The population of the Hezhe ethnic group has increased from 300 in the early days of New China to over 4,000. Xinjiang is listed by the International Medical Union as one of the four regions in the world renowned for longevity, with the biggest number of people over 100 years among every million people in the country. The average life expectancy of Tibet has increased from 35.5 years in 1951, when it was peacefully liberated, to 67 years now, with 13,581 seniors aged from 80 to 99, and 62 seniors aged over 100; it is now among the regions with the most centenarians on average in China.
VI. Protection and Development of Cultures of the Ethnic Minorities
Culture is an important characteristic of an ethnic group, and a source of its vitality, creativity and cohesion. The cultures of China's ethnic minorities are a vital part of Chinese civilization, and are intellectual assets owned by the entire Chinese nation.
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China stipulates that the state helps the ethnic minorities to accelerate the development of their cultural undertakings according to the characteristics and needs of the ethnic minorities. The Chinese government adopts various policies and measures to respect, protect and support the inheritance, development and innovation ofthe cultures of the various ethnic minorities, to encourage all ethnic groups to enhance their cultural exchanges, and develop their cultural undertakings.
Protecting and developing the spoken and written languages of the ethnic minorities
In the 1950s the state conducted a survey on the spoken and written languages of its ethnic minorities, on the basis of which the state established special institutions to do research work on these languages and help minority people create or improve their scripts. Of all the 55 ethnic minorities in China, 53 have their own spoken languages, except the Hui and Manchu that use the Han language. Among them 22 use 28 scripts, and 12 ethnic groups, including the Zhuang, Bouyei and Miao, use 16 scripts which have been created or improved with the help of the government. Now, there are approximately 60 million minority people in China who regularly use their own spoken languages, accounting for over 60 percent of the total population of the ethnic minorities, and about 30 million minority people who regularly use their own scripts. There are 154 radio and television stations using the languages of the ethnic minorities in ethnic autonomous areas, and the Central People's Broadcasting Station and local broadcasting stations broadcast in 21 minority languages daily. The publishing houses specializing in publishing for the ethnic minorities have increased from 17 in 1978 to 38, located in Beijing and 13 other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, and the number of minority languages they use has grown from five to 26. In 2008, a total of 5,561 titles of books in minority languages were published, with a total print-run of 64.44 million, 6.41 times and 6.37 times the figures in 1978 respectively. The autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet have stipulated and enforced relevant regulations and detailed implementation rules concerning the use and development of their own spoken and written languages.
In order to make the minority peoples share the fruits of the information age, the state has adopted various measures to promote the normalization, standardization and information processing of the scripts of the ethnic minorities. So far, the state has formulated national standards for coded character sets, keyboards and fonts of Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur (Kazak, Kirgiz), Korean, Yi, Dai and others, which, submitted by China, have been included in the latest edition of the international standards. A number of electronic publishing systems and office automation systems have been developed, and some websites and web pages in minority languages have been built. Some relevant software can already be operated via Windows.
Supporting and helping the ethnic minorities to develop education
The Chinese government has always attached importance to the development of education in the minority areas. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the state called a number of working conferences to make plans for promoting education among the ethnic minorities. The Constitution, the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and the Compulsory Education Law all expressly include provisions on helping the ethnic minorities to develop education. In central and local educational administrative departments at all levels, offices in charge of ethnic-minority education administration have been specially set up to implement and enforce the state policies on education of the ethnic minorities, and to study and handle special issues. Special subsidies for education of the ethnic minorities have been earmarked at both the central and local levels in order to meet the expenditure needs due to ethnic and geographical reasons for the ethnic minorities. Especially since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies, the minority areas have witnessed unprecedented development in elementary education, vocational education and higher education, as well as in teachers' training, "bilingual education" and education in ethnic unity. In 2002 the Decision on Deepening the Reform and Accelerating the Development of Education among the Ethnic Minorities issued by the State Council further clarified the general and specific policies and specified overall plans in this regard. In 2005, in the Outline of the Eleventh Five-year Plan for National Education, it is clearly stipulated that the country will stick to the principles of regional planning and classified guidance, and it is emphasized that public educational resources will be tilted in favor of the rural areas, central and western regions, poverty-stricken areas, border areas and areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities.
In recent years, the state has successively implemented the project of compulsory education in poverty-stricken areas, the project of renovation of dilapidated school buildings in rural primary and secondary schools, and the project to make nine-year compulsory education basically universal and to basically eliminate illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults in the western regions. The central finance has invested a total of over 29 billion yuan, thus greatly improving the conditions of schools in the minority areas. At present, in the whole country there are 20,906 ethnic-minority primary schools and 3,536 ethnic-minority secondary schools. Other schools of various levels and various types all enroll minority students as well, and grant them due preferential treatment. In 2004 the state started to implement in the rural areas of western China the policy of "Two Exemptions and One Subsidy" (exemption from incidental fees and textbook payment and subsidy for boarding), which has brought benefits to the great majority of minority students. Since 2006, the reform of the rural compulsory education funding mechanism has been carried out in the western regions as a first step. For ethnic minorities and minority areas with special difficulties, the state allocates special funds. For example, each year some 120 million yuan is allocated to rural primary and secondary schools in agricultural and pastoral areas of Tibet to implement the "Three Offers" - offering free meals, offering free boarding and offering free schooling. By the end of 2008, in the minority areas, the number of counties that had reached the targets of making nine-year compulsory education basically universal and basically eliminating illiteracy among the young and middle-aged had amounted to 674, accounting for 96.6 percent of the total number of counties in these areas.
In order to strengthen understanding and communication between the ethnic groups, to enhance ethnic relations of equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony, and to promote the common development of all ethnic groups, for many years the Chinese government has committed to developing "bilingual" teaching (teaching with a language of the ethnic minorities and the Han Chinese language) in areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities, and has achieved good results. By 2007, in the country there were altogether over 10,000 schools using 29 scripts of 21 ethnic minorities to carry out bilingual teaching, and the total number of students attending these schools was over six million.
The state supports higher education development in the minority areas through measures such as "paired-up" educational support for institutions of higher learning in western China, cooperating with local authorities to co-found institutions of higher learning in areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities, strengthening the establishment of special disciplines and degrees, and expanding enrolment. At present, in the minority areas there are 167 general institutions of higher learning, with 77,000 teachers and 1.235 million students. The state renders great support to the development of vocational education in the minority areas. In 2008,the central government invested 827 million yuan in the five autonomous regions, helped build 83 county-level vocational education centers and secondary vocational schools for demonstration purposes, as well as 145 practical training bases of vocational schools and 10 international demonstration vocational higher schools; and allocated 974 million yuan as a state stipend for students of secondary vocational schools in the five autonomous regions, financially aiding over 830,000 students, accounting for 90 percent of the students attending these schools.
Through 60 years of efforts, the educational undertakings in the minority areas have scored considerable achievements. By the end of 2008, the number of minority students attending schools of all levels and all types in the whole country amounted to 21.996 million, among which the number of minority students attending general primary schools was 10.708 million, accounting for 10.4 percent of all such students; the number of minority students attending general secondary schools was 6.802 million, making up 8.5 percent; and the number of minority students attending general institutions of higher learning was 1.339 million, making up 6.2 percent of all such students. The overall cultural quality of the minority peoples has achieved significant improvement. According to the fifth national census in 2000, for 14 ethnic minorities, including the Korean, Manchu, Mongolian and Kazak, the number of years of education has surpassed the national average. At present, there are university students from all the 55 ethnic groups, and for about a dozen ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Hui, Korean and Naxi, the average number of university students per 10,000 people has already surpassed the national average.
Rescuing and preserving cultural heritage of the ethnic minorities
A national planning group and office for collecting and publishing ancient books of the ethnic minorities have been established by the state to organize the work for the recovery, sorting-out and protection of ancient books of the ethnic minorities. By the end of 2008, several million titles of ancient books of ethnic minorities had been collected, of which over 110,000 had been edited. As many as 377 ancient titles of the ethnic minorities have been included in the first and second batches for the National Catalogue of Precious Ancient Books, and five institutions including the China Ethnic Library have been listed among the first and second groups of important institutions for the preservation of ancient books at the national level. Among them, the ancient Dongba literature manuscripts of the Naxi ethnic group have been listed in UNESCO's Memory of the World. In addition, the Chinese government has set up special institutions for the collection, editing, translation and research of the three major epics of the ethnic minorities: Gesar of the Tibetans, Jianggar of the Mongolians, and Manas of the Kirgiz, and significant progress has been made in the work. In recent years, the state has earmarked a large sum for the collating and publishing of the Tripitaka in China, an encyclopedia of Tibetan studies in 150 volumes.
For over three decades since the 1950s, more than 3,000 experts and scholars organized by the state completed their research, editing and publishing of five ethnic-minority subjects, including a series of books on the ethnic minorities in China, a series of books on concise histories of the ethnic minorities in China, a series of books on the languages of the ethnic minorities in China, a series of books on the overview of ethnic autonomous areas in China, and a series of monographs resulting from the survey of social histories of the ethnic minorities in China, totaling 403 volumes, 100 million Chinese characters and a print-run of over 500, 000 copies. In recent years, the state has organized the work for revision and reprinting of the above five series. From the 1950s up to now, the state has organized three large-scale surveys, striving to find the folk cultural and artistic materials of the minority peoples and prevent them from falling into oblivion. The government has also organized over 100,000 people and finished, after 30 years of effort, the compilation of the Ten Collections of China's Folk Cultures and Arts of Ethnic Groups, a key subject of the National Philosophy and Social Sciences Plan. The collections comprise 298 volumes (450 sub-volumes) in 500 million Chinese characters. In addition, the state has also organized and completed the publishing of 108 titles on various artistic theories of the ethnic minorities, totaling approximately 25 million Chinese characters.
Beginning in the 1980s, the state has invested large sums in the renovation and maintenance of key cultural relics sites under the state protection, including the Drepung, Sera and Gandan monasteries in Lhasa of Tibet, the Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai Province and the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Cave in Xinjiang. Between 1989 and 1994, the state invested 55 million yuan, 1,000 kg of gold and a large quantity of silver in repairing the famous Potala Palace. Since 2001 the Chinese government appropriated 380 million yuan as a special fund for repairing the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery. In the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006-2010), the government will invest 570 million yuan as special fund for the maintenance and protection of 22 major cultural relics sites in Tibet. Since 2005 the state has input 400million yuan for preserving over 20 key cultural relics and historical sites in Xinjiang in the 11th Five-year Plan period. To date, in ethnic autonomous areas there are 366 key cultural relics and historical sites under state protection, of which two are included in the World Heritage List - Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace in Lhasa and the Old Town of Lijiang, and three are cited as World Natural Heritage - Jiuzhaigou Valley, Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area and Protected Area of Three Parallel Rivers (Nujiang, Jinsha and Lancang) in Yunnan.
The state also attaches great importance to the preservation of the intangible cultural heritage of the ethnic minorities. Since 2002, funds from the central coffers have totaled 386 million yuan for preserving intangible heritage items, a quarter of which has been used in minority areas. Among the two groups of 1,028 items on the national intangible cultural heritage list published by the State Council, 367 are associated with the ethnic minorities, taking up 35.7 percent of the total. All the 55 ethnic minorities in China have their own items on the list. Among the three groups of 1,488 representative inheritors of national intangible cultural heritage projects, 393 belong to the ethnic minorities, accounting for 26.4 percent. The Mukam Art of the Uyghur people and the Mongolian Long Folk Songs have been listed in the third group of UNESCO's "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Mankind."
Promoting the ethnic minorities' cultural and artistic undertakings
In the early 1950s, the national-level Central Ethnic Song and Dance Ensemble was established. In recent years, by undertaking the project of "Long Cultural Corridor Construction in the Border Areas," the projects of setting up county-level libraries and cultural centers, township and town cultural stations and village cultural rooms, the project of "extending radio and TV coverage to every village," and the national cultural information resources sharing project, the state has greatly improved the public cultural service system in the minority areas, and enriched the cultural life of the people of the minority areas. By the end of 2008 there were 10,282 cultural and art institutions across China, of which 651 were art troupes, 191 sites for art performances, 604libraries, 80 mass art centers, 643 cultural centers, 6,859 cultural stations and 240 museums. At present, the number of cultural institutions owned by every 100,000 people in the minority areas has already surpassed the national average.
The state actively protects the fine traditional cultures of the ethnic minorities. Tibetan opera, which has a history of over 500 years, is well preserved and flourishing. Every year it is a must for the Shoton Festival, and, together with other singing, dancing and drama performances, makes the festival a most joyous event of the Tibetan people. The traditional festivals of the ethnic minorities, such as the Mongolian Nadam Fair, the Ramadan Festival of the Hui, the Kurban Festival of the Uyghur, the Antiphonal Singing Day of the Zhuang, the Water Sprinkling Festival of the Dai, and the Torch Festival of the Yi, are well preserved and promoted. To date, more than 290 kinds of traditional ethnic sports have been revived and are thriving. The mural art of the Tibetans is being continuously enriched, and the Tibetan art of Tangka is well preserved. The carpets and wall hangings made by the Uyghur and Mongolian peoples are very popular in the Chinese market. The batik art of the Bouyei, Miao, Yao and Gelao ethnic groups as well as the tapestry art of the Tujia, Zhuang, Dai, Li and Dong ethnic groups have been greatly improved in designs, patterns and varieties. Thus the traditional crafts of the ethnic minorities have regained their vigor.
A large number of people with literary and artistic talent among the ethnic minorities are coming to the fore, and literary and artistic creation is becoming increasingly flourishing. There are 24 art colleges and secondary art schools in the five autonomous regions and Yunnan, Guizhou and Jilin provinces especially for training artistically talented people from among China's ethnic minorities. Nearly 600 writers of the ethnic minorities are members of the Chinese Writers' Association, constituting more than 10 percent of its total membership. A multitude of outstanding ethnic writers and artists, outstanding films, singing and dancing performances reflecting the life of minority peoples become most popular. Many such songs and dances have spread all over the country, and produced a wide influence both at home and abroad. It is stipulated in state regulations that the festival of performances of ethnic-minority arts shall beheld every four years. Three have been held already. In addition, the National Traditional Ethnic-Minority Sports Meet shall be held every five years, and eight have been held already. The "Stallion Award" competitions for films, television programs and literary works reflecting life of minority peoples are held regularly. In addition, there are various kinds of ethnic singing and dancing competitions. Through the Spring Festival Gala of the China Central TV, some good ethnic-minority performances are shown to the whole nation. All these have promoted the creation of top literary and art works of the ethnic minorities as well as cultural exchanges among all ethnic groups.
Fostering the ethnic-minority medical tradition
Ethnic-minority medicine forms an important part of the treasure-house of Chinese medicine and pharmacology. Based on investigation, sorting-out and study of medicinal materials, specialists of 35 ethnic minorities out of the total 55 have collected and compiled their own medical compendiums. Ethnic-minority medicine has been developed and is widely used. In1992 the state gave permission for the setting up of centers for the production of a dozen kinds of Mongolian, Tibetan and Uyghur traditional pharmaceutical preparations and over 100 kinds of traditional medicines with the combination of traditional and modern expertise. China has 35 research institutes of ethnic-minority medicine at or above the county level, employing a total of about 1,500 research personnel. In addition, the state has organized the compilation of the Materia Medica of Ethnic Groups in China, listing 396 kinds of Tibetan medicine, 422 kinds of Mongolian medicine, 423 kinds of Uyghur medicine and 400 kinds of Dai medicine in separate volumes. The work is of high scientific value and most authoritative.
The state vigorously supports the building of medical institutions of the ethnic minorities. By the end of 2008, 15 ethnic minorities had their own ethnic-minority-medicine hospitals. There are altogether 191 such hospitals with 8,694 beds across the country. Among them, 70 are Tibetan medicine hospitals, 51 are Mongolian medicine hospitals, 39 are Uyghur medicine hospitals, and 31 are hospitals specializing in the traditional medicine of the Dai, Korean, Zhuang, Miao and Yao peoples. Beginning in 2006, the state has given priority to the construction of 10 key ethnic-minority-medicine hospitals, including those specializing in Tibetan, Mongol, Uyghur, Dai, Korean, Zhuang, Miao and Tujia traditional medicine, aiming at enhancing the overall level of diagnosis and treatment in ethnic-minority-medicine hospitals.
The state has launched specialized education programs on ethnic-minority medicine in 14 educational institutions, and is making great efforts to foster medical specialists of minority peoples. Of the institutions, five are colleges of ethnic-minority medicine, four are secondary schools of ethnic-minority medicine, and five are non-ethnic educational institutions with majors in ethnic-minority medicine. To date, there are 17,000 undergraduates studying in ethnic-minority medical schools all over China, in addition to 3,964 graduates. Six ethnic-minority medicine traditions, namely, those of the Tibetan, Mongolian, Uyghur, Dai, Korean and Zhuang, are included in the National Qualification Examination for Doctors. The number of medical personnel specialized in ethnic-minority medicine has reached 10,000, an important guarantee for the improvement of the physical health of all minority peoples. VII. Striving to Foster Cadres and Talented People of the Ethnic Minorities
Ethnic-minority cadres and talented people are outstanding elements of ethnic minorities. Being well acquainted with the languages, histories, traditions and customs of their own ethnic groups, and the political, economic and cultural characteristics of their localities, they serve as a link between the government and minority peoples. The situation of minority cadres and talented people indicates the development level of the ethnic minorities. For a long period of time, the state has regarded the fostering of minority cadres and talented people as a key to promoting the prosperity and development of the ethnic minorities, doing a good job of making progress in the minority areas and solving the problems of the ethnic minorities. Considering it a matter of long-term significance and fundamental nature, it has unremittingly taken effective measures to strengthen the recruiting and training of them.
The Constitution stipulates that the state shall help the ethnic autonomous areas train in large numbers cadres at various levels, specialized personnel and skilled workers of various professions and trades from among the ethnic group or ethnic groups in those areas; and all the ethnic minorities are entitled to appropriate representation in the Standing Committee of the NPC. The Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy stipulates that the heads of all autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties should be citizens of the ethnic group(s) exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned. The functionaries of the working bodies subsidiary to the organs of self-government shall include an appropriate number of members of the ethnic group(s) exercising regional autonomy as well as members of other ethnic minorities. The Civil Service Law of the People's Republic of China provides that, when recruiting civil servants in an ethnic autonomous area, the applicants of ethic minorities shall be given appropriate preferential treatment.
As soon as the People's Republic of China was founded, the state called to train a large number of minority cadres. To this end, the state established special institutions of higher learning for such training. In the 1950s ten such colleges were set up, including the Central College for Ethnic Minorities, Northwest College for Ethnic Minorities, Southwest College for Ethnic Minorities, South-Central College for Ethnic Minorities and Guangxi College for Ethnic Minorities. Since the launch of the reform and opening-up drive, the state has again established the Hubei College for Ethnic Minorities, North University for Ethnic Minorities and Dalian College for Ethnic Minorities. Along with the progress of the times, many of them developed into universities. Their enrollment has expanded and academic level constantly enhanced. So far, there are 15 institutions of higher learning for the ethnic minorities in China. Furthermore, the state has held training classes and schools for minority cadres, and ethnic-minority classes in ordinary institutions of higher learning, making unremitting efforts to enhance the cultivation of minority cadres.
The state attaches great importance to the recruitment and training of minority cadres. Minority cadres account for a certain percentage in each ethnic autonomous area. A large number of minority cadres are in leading posts at all levels. In open selection and competition for leading body of a given place or unit, a certain ratio or a certain number of posts would be given to minority cadres. When recruiting civil servants, the state appropriately lowers the standard for minority applicants. To ensure that a certain number of minority applicants become civil servants, some preferential treatment is adopted, such as designating certain percentages, targeted recruitment and adding appropriate scores.
The state unremittingly enhances the education and training of minority cadres. It regularly selects and sends minority cadres to Party schools at all levels and various colleges to receive training, and organizes minority cadres to tour the developed coastal areas in a planned way, so as to keep improving their qualities. Since 2003, the "Western Light" program has been launched by related government departments to train visiting scholars. The state has selected 1,416 high-caliber technical personnel from the western regions to attend one-year study courses at leading domestic institutions of higher learning, scientific research institutes and medical organizations, aiming to train them to be high-level professionals badly needed in western China. Among them, 553 are from the minority areas, accounting for 39.1 percent of the total.
In addition, the state organizes exchange of posts and taking post by turn for minority cadres in a planned way, and selects a large number of minority cadres to take up temporary leading posts in the other parts of the country, at the grassroots units or in leading organs at the higher levels, thus developing their abilities in actual work. Since 1990, the state has begun to select cadres from western regions and other minority areas and put them in the CPC and central government organs and comparatively developed regions to take up temporary leading posts. Over the past 20 years, more than 5,000 cadres have had such training, thus turning out a large number of Party and government cadres, as well as scientific and technical and managerial personnel for the minority areas, greatly promoting the building of leading bodies and the contingent of cadres in the minority areas, and promoting the sound and rapid development of the economy and society there.
Through dozens of years of unremitting efforts, the rank of minority cadres has been growing steadily. By 2008, the number of minority cadres exceeded 2.9 million, registering a 300 percent increase over 1978. Civil servants of the ethnic minorities accounted for 9.6 percent of the country's total. Minority cadres at and above the county level accounted for 7.7 percent of the total of cadres at the same level. Minority cadres also account for a fair proportion of cadres in the central and local state organs, including administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs. At present, two of the 13 vice chairpersons of the Standing Committee of the NPC are from the ethnic minorities; two of the nine vice premiers and state councilors of the State Council are of ethnic-minority origin; and five of the 25 vice chairpersons of the National Committee of the CPPCC are from the ethnic minorities.
The state attaches great importance to the training of various talented people needed in the modernization drive of the minority areas. It rules that institutions of higher learning and secondaryvocational schools should appropriately lower the standards and conditions for applicants from the ethnic minorities when enrolling new students, and offer special treatment to applicants from the ethnic minorities with comparatively small populations. Every year, tens of thousands of minority applicants are admitted to institutions of higher learning. In order to speed up the cultivation of talented people for the minority areas, the state holds preparatory and regular classes for students of the ethnic minorities in key institutions of higher learning, with an annual enrolment of 30,000 such students. In 1984 the Chinese government decided to run classes or schools for Tibetan students in large and medium-sized inland cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu. Over the past 20 years, more than 70,000 Tibetan studentshave been enrolled in junior high and senior high schools, as wellas colleges and universities. In 2000 the state decided to run senior high school classes for Xinjiang students in schools in 12 large and medium-sized inland cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. By the end of 2008, 50 senior high schools have classes for Xinjiang students. These schools are located in 28 cities of 12 provinces and municipalities directly under the central government. So far, 24,000 students have been enrolled in them. In2003 the state helped eight cities in Xinjiang, including Urumqi, to hold junior high school classes for children of minority farmers and herdsmen, accounting for over 80 percent of the total students enrolled. The "program of training high-caliber backbone personnel from the ethnic minorities" was launched in 2006, to enroll students for Master's and PhD degrees from the minority areas. So far, the annual enrollment of such students had reached 4,700, bringing the total number of such students studying in the institutions of higher learning to 7,900.
The state encourages and guides college graduates to work in the minority areas. The "PhD Service Group" was launched in 1999, sending altogether 1,195 outstanding young scientists and technicians with PhD degrees from the central organs of the CPC and the State Council and comparatively developed eastern regions to western regions, old revolutionary base areas and the minority areas, providing manpower and intellectual assistance. Among them,403 were sent to the western minority areas, accounting for 33.7 percent of the total.
For many years, the Chinese government has sent cadres and talented people to the minority areas, including Tibet and Xinjiang. These cadres and talented people make arduous efforts and selfless contributions, and are playing an important role in promoting the development of the minority areas.
Sixty years of experiences have proved that China's ethnic policies are correct and effective, and are in keeping with China's actual conditions and the common interests of all ethnic groups, winning the support of the people of all ethnic groups. Guided by these policies, people of all ethnic groups in China have safeguarded national unification, social stability and ethnic unity, blazing a bright trail to achieve common prosperity for all ethnic groups.
China is a large developing country with a population of 1.3 billion and 56 ethnic groups. The special conditions in China have dictated the country's unbalanced development. China is currently at the primary stage of socialism, and will remain so for a long time to come. To achieve the common prosperity of all ethnic groups, there is still a long way to go, and arduous efforts are still needed.
At present, led by the CPC, the people of all ethnic groups are holding high the banner of ethnic unity, cherishing the hard-earned excellent situation, concentrating on construction and giving undivided attention to seek development, and accelerating the building of a prosperous society in an all-round way and realizing the great goals of the socialist modernization drive. The development and advancement of the state and society will surely further improve China's policies toward the ethnic minorities. And the Chinese nation, including the people of all ethnic groups, will surely have a promising future.
Click here for a listing of PRC-issued white papers on various topics.
Wherever you may be, we wish you and those close to you the very best Year of the Rabbit.
Join us for a discussion with Mike Chinoy on his new book that expands on USCI's Assignment: China series.
Join us for Aynne Kokas's discussion of the global battle for control over and use of the personal and institutional data we create every day.