SINCE 1978



กกกกAn effort was made to see that all working institutions for ethnic minorities from the central level downwards as well as ethnic institutes were reopened.

      A readjustment was made in the administrative division of the Mongolian Autonomous Region: Three leagues and three banners which had been amalgamated into other provinces and autonomous regions during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-67 were restored to it. The institution of the Bouyei-Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Guizhou and a number of autonomous counties in Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan, Hubei and Gansu provinces helped increase minority self-government.

      Part of the post-Cultural Revolution rectification included the replacement of Han officials in the minority areas with leaders of native origin. By 1978, the minority self-governments could boast of 800,000 non-Han officials, 80 times those in 1949. By 1983, 1.3 million minority managers and executives were on the job. In the country's 5 autonomous regions, 31 autonomous prefectures and 96 autonomous counties (banners), self-governments are all headed by cadres of ethnic minority origin.

      Intensified efforts were made to strengthen construction work in the border areas and assist the minority peoples in their rehabilitation and development of production.

      Since 1979, restructuring of the rural economy has aided ethnic minority peoples as it has helped Han farmers in central China. By raising the state purchase price for farm produce and sideline products, encouraging individual responsibility for production and profits, and instituting private crop plots within the cooperative structure, the central government has achieved spectacular results in the rural economy. Individual family specialized enterprises and exemption from certain taxes have also helped minority peoples lead a more prosperous life.

      With China's grain supply now firmly sufficient to feed its billion people, the government is encouraging other lines of agriculture, livestock management and forestry, as well as taking specific measures to develop trade and specialized goods in the minority areas.

      In many places monasteries and mosques have been reopened to the public, with renovations and repair work done, to reemphasize the policy on religious freedom and to give respect to the traditions and customs of the minority peoples. All traditional religious festivals and activities such as Buddhist worship, chanting scriptures, burning incense, initiating believers into monkhood or nunhood, performing services and fasting at home or in monasteries and mosques are protected by law.

      With their political status restored and special allowances made in line with the national policy on "Forming a United Front," a large number of upper-strata people (including upper-strata religious leaders) of the minority groups have been rehabilitated.

      In the last few years, an annually increasing output in the ethnic autonomous areas has been achieved in industry and agriculture. In 1984 they had a gross product valued at 68.17 billion yuan (calculated according to the constant price of 1980), 13.7 times over 1949, averaging an annual increase of 7.8 per cent from 1950 to 1984. Particularly noteworthy was their development in agricultural production and livestock management. In 1984, the total output of agriculture was valued at 33.17 billion yuan, an increase of 555 per cent over 1949.

      Since 1979, through a combination of sound agricultural policy and good weather conditions, very strong harvests have been reaped in the minority areas. The expansion of decision-making powers at local levels, the granting of tax exemptions and the introduction of state subsidies, and in particular the linkage of increased production with increased individual income have proven very effective.

      Total agricultural product increased at an annual rate of 5 per cent (avg.) between 1949 and 1990s.

      At the end of 1949 farm animals in the ethnical autonomous areas numbered 41 million head; these had increased to 182 million by 1984, averaging an annual growth rate of 4.3 per cent from 1950 to 1984.

      Before 1949, modern industry was almost non-existent in the minority areas except for a little handicraft industry and some other backward industrial lines. But with the founding of the People's Republic came a speedy growth of local industry in the ethnical autonomous areas.

      In the last 35 years, there have been 37,000 small, medium-sized, and modern industrial enterprises built in the minority areas. Even some large state enterprises are in minority regions, including the Baotou Iron and Steel Company in Inner Mongolia, the Karamay Oilfield in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Honghe River Water Conservancy Project in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the Helanshan Coal Mine in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

      In 1984, the total value of industrial output in the minority areas shot up to 35 billion yuan (calculated according to the constant price of 1980), 63 times that in 1949, averaging an annual increase of 12.6 per cent.

      Because of the largely rural and agricultural background of the minority peoples, and because of an overemphasis in the past on China's heavy industrial capacity, planning for development in the autonomous ethnic areas has focused largely on light industry.

      Before 1949 there was no trunk railway line in southwestern China, just a narrow-gauge railway in Yunnan Province and 60 kilometers of mining rail tracks in Sichuan. In Guizhou Province there was practically no railway. But now there are a number of trunk railways, including the Chengdu-Chongqing, Sichuan-Guizhou (Chongqing-Guiyang), Baoji-Chengdu, Chengdu-Kunming, Xiangfan-Chongqing, Guizhou-Kunming, Hunan-Guizhou (Zhuzhou-Guiyang) and Guizhou-Guangxi (Guiyang-Liuzhou) railways. By the mid-1980s with a total length of 5,900 kilometres long, excluding branch lines, they had accounted for about 11.7 per cent of the country's total railway mileage to form a transportation network over the southwestern part of China.

      On the vast expanse of northwest China (including Qinghai, Xinjiang and Ningxia), pre-1949 railway mileage was negligible. There was only a short railway between Shaanxi Province and Tianshui in Gansu Province, and it often collapsed owing to poor engineering. After 1949, with the completion of the Tianshui-Lanzhou Railway, the whole Longhai line, from Lianyungang on the east coast to Lanzhou, capital of Gansu, was open to traffic. Stretching across the Northwest now are a number of new trunk lines, including the Lanzhou-Xinjiang, Lanzhou-Qinghai, Baotou-Lanzhou, Southern Xinjiang and Qinghai-Tibet railways, a total of 7,000 kilometres, or 14 per cent of the country's total. By linking the west with the coastal and inland provinces to make it more easily accessible to the whole of China, the new railways contribute to the exploitation of mineral and natural resources and have brought a shift in the distribution of the country's industry.

National Autonomous Regions Economic Growth Indicators

  1949 1978 1984
Electricity   17.4 billion kw/h 26.6 billion kw/h
Crude oil   5.77 million tons 7 million tons
Timber   12.1 mil. cubic metres 16.65 mil.cubic metres
Cotton cloth   373 million metres 474 million metres
Cigarette   514,000 cases 1.74 million cases
Railway 3,511 km 9,018 km 12,097 km
Highway 11,400 km 208,000 km 235,400 km
Retail sales 980 million yuan 15 billion yuan 32.6 billion yuan

กกกกIn the 50 years since the founding of the People's Republic, much has been achieved in higher education by the minority nationalities. Today over a dozen ethnic minority institutes have been established nationwide for training minority officials and professionals.

      Before 1949, there was hardly any school at all in the minority areas; higher learning was virtually a blank. But with the development of the economy, great advances have been made in minority education. In June 1951, the Central Institute for Nationalities was inaugurated in Beijing. Later, nine similar institutes were set up in northwestern, southwestern and central-south China, and in Guangxi, Qinghai, Guangdong and Tibet. In 1984, the No. 2 Northwest Institute for Nationalities opened in Xinjiang.

      With the improvement of conditions in teaching and scientific research in minority institutions of higher learning, many minority intellectuals now hold bachelor's and master's degrees. Minority candidates for doctorates began to be enrolled in 1984. Special training classes are open in many colleges and universities for ethnic minority students. By the end of 1984, a total of 69,000 minority students had been enrolled in the country's institutions of higher learning.

      In 1984, total enrollment of minority students in junior and senior middle schools was 2.18 million compared to 92,000 in 1952; enrollment of ethnic primary school students grew from 1.47 million in 1952 to 9 million in 1984.

      In the last 50 years minority peoples have also made great advances in medical and health care. In 1949, only 361 medical service units were active in minority areas, but by 1984 these had increased to 29,794, a yearly increase of 13.4 per cent from 1950 to 1984; professional medical and health personnel numbered 406,880 in 1984 compared to 3,530 in 1949, an annual increase of 14.5 per cent during the period.

      When all is said, work on ethnic minorities in China did not go smoothly. There were major disruptions caused by the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 and mistakes committed by people who showed no regard to special conditions of minority areas. There have been significant economic and cultural achievements in minority areas compared with their past. But in comparison with other areas in the country, ethnic minority areas are still backward. Development of China's ethnic minority areas is a long-term task.

      The general task face the nation is not much different from what was formulated in 1982: to unite the people of all ethnic minorities in hard work and self-reliance to achieve the modernization of China's industry, agriculture, national defense and science and technology and to make China a culturally advanced and highly democratic socialist country; and in the course of the modernization drive, to take active steps to help the minority groups speed up their economic and cultural construction for a gradual elimination of the de facto inequality between all ethnic groups.