¡¡¡¡Regional self-governments were established in areas where minority groups lived in compact communities. These governments, apart from exercising the functions and powers of normal state bureaucracies, also exercise the functions and powers of autonomous self-government within the limits prescribed by the Constitution and state laws.

      Organs of self-government are formed mainly of personnel of the majority ethnic groups, with a proper representation from other ethnic groups in the area where they live. Self-governments in autonomous areas use one or several languages commonly used by the minority groups in the localities concerned.

      In performing their duties, the self-governments give full consideration to the traditions, characteristics and customs of the minority groups, enacting specific autonomous regulations and local laws.

      In managing financial matters, the self-governments in the autonomous areas enjoy greater financial power than other local governments at the same level. In 1984, the Second Session of the Sixth National People's Congress adopted a law on regional autonomy. The law takes into account the characteristics and special needs of the country's autonomous areas and ensures the full exercise of autonomy by organs of self-government which have bigger decision-making powers than other local governments.

      Clauses in the law on training minority personnel will help raise the proportion of minority officials and workers in autonomous areas.

      China formulated its policy on ethnic minority regional autonomy in light of the following actual conditions in the country: 1) China is a united, multi-ethnic group country where close political, economic and cultural ties have long existed among its various ethnic groups.

      2) The Han people are the most numerous, while the minority groups inhabit vast regions rich in natural resources. Over the breadth of history, the people of various ethnic groups have come to live together with the Han people living mainly in the interior.

      3) In the hundred years or so before the founding of the People¡¯s Republic of China, people of all ethnic groups shared a common misfortune, being subjected to outside aggression and domestic oppression.

      The policy of national autonomy proceeds from the cooperation and mutual assistance of China's ethnic groups in bringing about their common prosperity.

      May 1, 1947 saw the founding of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the earliest and then the largest autonomous region in China. In 1952 the government promulgated the "Program of the People's Republic of China for Implementing Regional Ethnic Autonomy" and, by 1953, 47 national autonomous areas at the county level and below had been established. By the end of 1958, regional autonomy was in effect for over 90 per cent of the population in minority areas.

      Tibet formally inaugurated the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965. By the end of 1985, China had five autonomous regions at the provincial level, 31 autonomous prefectures, and 96 autonomous counties and autonomous "banners."

      Regional national autonomy is designed to ensure the right of autonomy not only for ethnic people living in considerable numbers in dense communities, but also for those living in small communities. A minority people may have several autonomous areas in accordance with their distribution. These autonomous areas established by the various minority groups, whether large in population or small, have put an end to the centuries-long deprivation of their political rights. Living in the ethnic autonomous areas the people of minority groups are now ensured an equal status in the political life of the state, and the right to manage their own affairs.

      The key to exercising regional ethnic autonomy lies in training large numbers of minority officials. Familiar with the histories, languages, customs and wishes of people of their own ethnic group, they provide the best link for the government to maintain communications with the various minority groups.

      Since 1951, a number of colleges for minority students were inaugurated in Beijing as well as in the country's Northwest, Southwest, Central South and provinces with a big concentration of ethnic minorities.

      The central government not only respects the spoken and written languages of the ethnic minority groups but helps them use and develop them. After the founding of the People's Republic, minority language research institutions were established at the central level and in various minority areas. Language courses were offered at institutes for ethnic minority groups and at ethnic minority schools in the minority areas. Many people were trained for scientific research, translation and the teaching of minority languages.

      In 1956 the state organized a language investigation team that included more than 700 language experts to carry out a large-scale scientific investigation into the languages of 33 minorities living in 16 provinces and autonomous regions of the country. In line with the policy of "following the will and decision of the minorities" and facilitating their development and prosperity, an effort was made to help the Zhuang, Yi, Bouyei, Miao, Dong, Hani, Lisu, Li, Va and Naxi peoples develop their own written scripts on the basis of the Latin alphabet. Moreover, on the basis of two different dialects in Xishuangbanna and Dehong, two schemes were designed for the Dai people to change their script. The Jingpo and Lahu peoples were also assisted in improving their written scripts. The original written languages of Uygurs, Kazaks and Yis are still in common use.

      The government has specified that self-governments in autonomous regions should use the respective spoken and written languages, and that the written languages of various ethnic groups should be used in the election of deputies to the People's Congresses. Citizens of every ethnic group also have the right to use their own spoken and written languages in legal proceedings, and the commonly used languages in the minority areas should be used for interrogation, announcement of court verdicts, notices, bulletins and other legal documents. Respect is given to languages being used by the minorities in daily life. These languages are also used in minority area schools and in local news releases, broadcasts and book publishing. The ethnic languages are used in books, newspapers and magazines published by central publishing departments and publishers in the autonomous areas. At the present time Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Kazak and Korean are used daily by the Central People's Broadcasting Station in programs beamed to those areas. Radio programs are also produced with one or several minority languages by regional and prefectural broadcasting stations in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Yunnan, Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu.