VI. Equal Rights and Special Protection for Ethnic Minorities

In China, citizens of all ethnic minorities enjoy all equal civil rights specified in the Constitution and laws, as well as various special rights granted them, in accordance with the law.

Ethnic minorities enjoy equal rights to participate in the administration of state affairs and the rights to independently manage the affairs of their own regions and their own ethnic communities. Among the deputies to the Tenth NPC, there are 415 of ethnic-minority origin, representing 13.91 percent of the total number of deputies. Each of China's 55 ethnic minorities has its own deputy(ies).

By 2003, all principal leading positions of the local autonomous governments at all levels and of all kinds in China had been entirely assumed by citizens of the ethnic group(s) exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned. A large number of people of ethnic-minority origin also served in leading positions in working departments in organs of self-government of ethnic autonomous areas.

The training of ethnic-minority cadres has been further promoted. In the past three years, the number of such cadres who attended the training sessions sponsored by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission alone reached 4,000. Most of the 42,000 ethnic-minority cadres at the county (division) level or above have attended training courses of one kind or another.

The economy in ethnic-minority areas has been developing rapidly, and the local people's living standard has improved greatly. In 2003, the gross output value in those areas exceeded 1,100 billion yuan, an increase of 11.1 percent over the previous year, which was higher than the nation's average. Of these regions, the gross output value of Tibet and Ningxia exceeded 11.5 percent, while that of Inner Mongolia reached 16.3 percent, ranking first in the country.

Since the beginning of 2004, funds for helping the poor provided by the central government will be increased by 60 million yuan, to be used primarily in programs for invigorating the border areas, enabling the poor to become comfortably off and accelerating development in border areas inhabited by ethnic minorities.

The state has, for the first time, listed poverty relief for ethnic minorities with relatively small populations as a focus of the state's development-oriented poverty reduction program. A special help-the-poor policy is adopted for a total of 630,000 people of 22 ethnic-minority groups, the population of each of which is smaller than 100,000. Within three to five years, great efforts will be made to assure them of relatively great improvement in production, living standard, infrastructure, culture and education, medical and health care, telecommunications and transport.

The state has listed Muslim food in the Catalogue of Goods Specially Needed for Ethnic Minorities, and 345 enterprises have been designated to engage in the production of these foodstuffs specially for China's 20 million Muslims.

In 2003, 400 million yuan was earmarked as development funds for ethnic minorities, to solve special difficulties in their production and daily life. Through preferential policies toward ethnic-minority peoples, 600 million yuan was channeled to ethnic minorities to develop trade and enterprises producing special articles used by them.

The state has increased its input in education for ethnic minorities and is striving to solve the most difficult problems that hinder the development of their education, with the aim of enhancing the educational level of citizens of ethnic-minority origin. Special educational funds allocated by the central budget and key educational projects organized and implemented by the state are all oriented to the ethnic-minority areas.

In the application and distribution of various special educational funds, local governments have also adopted preferential policies toward education for ethnic minorities. Beginning in the autumn of 2003, the central and local governments jointly earmarked funds to provide textbooks free of charge to poverty-stricken students at the stage of compulsory education in 56 counties of Xinjiang, and exempted them from all school fees.

Commencing in 2004, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region will invest 4.858 million yuan each year on top of an annual 8.703 million yuan for classes for ethnic-minority students in boarding schools. Hubei Province will, as one of its major tasks on its poverty reduction program for ethnic minorities-inhabited areas, build 100 primary and middle boarding schools for students of the compulsory education period in rural areas. This will solve the problem of accommodation for 30,000 ethnic-minority students from poor families.

In higher education, the state has adopted a preferential policy toward ethnic-minority students. In the enrolment of institutions of higher learning, the policy of giving priority to ethnic-minority students is being continued. By the end of 2003, of 699 administrative areas at the county level in ethnic autonomous areas in China, 405, or 32 more than in 2002, had by and large realized the goal of nine-year compulsory education and eliminated illiteracy among the young and middle-aged.

The state has all along paid attention to research, protection and development of traditional ethnic-minority cultures, organized collection, editing, translation and publishing of the cultural heritages of all ethnic minorities in a planned way, protected scenic spots, historical sites, valuable cultural relics and other important historical and cultural heritages of the ethnic-minority people, and formulated special preferential policies in respect of cultural facilities improvement, training of literary and artistic talents, cultural exchanges with foreign countries and protection of cultural relics.

The state has spent a large amount of money on the protection of cultural relics in the areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. Some cultural relics in Qinghai Province as well as Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have been repaired. For five years starting in 1989, the state allocated over 55 million yuan for the renovation of the Potala Palace, and more than 200 million yuan has been planned for all-round maintenance of the Potala Palace in the future.

The state has strengthened efforts for the collection, editing and rescue work of ethnic languages and scripts, including those of the Manchu, She, Hezhen, Jing, Gelo and Tujia. The government regularly sponsors national ethnic-minority cultural activities and large-scale traditional sport meets of ethnic minorities to promote the development of their cultures and sports.