VII. Guarantee of Rights and Interests of
Ethnic Minorities

There are 55 ethnic minorities in China. To guarantee the legitimate rights of ethnic minorities, China's Constitution and laws stipulate that all ethnic groups are equal. There are clear stipulations that help is to be extended to ethnic minorities and national autonomous areas for the development of their economy, culture and other undertakings and that the customs and habits of ethnic minorities are to be respected in social life. This is the fundamental reason that all ethnic groups in China have for a long time united closely, lived in harmony and helped one another.

The ethnic minorities' right to be represented in the highest organ of state power as well as in local organs of power at various levels has been continuously and specially guaranteed. Deputies to the Eighth National People's Congress include 439, or 14.7 percent, of ethnic minorities. This percentage is much higher than the percentage (8.04) of population of ethnic minorities in the country's total population. The state pays much attention to training and selecting cadres of ethnic minorities to work in governments at various levels. About 10.5 percent of all cadres at provincial or ministerial level are from ethnic minorities and 7.9 percent of cadres at prefectural or bureau level are from ethnic minorities.

China has instituted a system of regional autonomy in minority areas. In order to implement the Law on Regional National Autonomy, since 1991 China has formulated more than 20 regulations on regional national autonomy and some special regulations. This has further guaranteed autonomy in the national autonomous areas. In China the chairman of an autonomous region and the head of an autonomous prefecture or autonomous county are invariably citizens of the ethnic group that exercises regional autonomy. Other members of the people's government of an autonomous region, autonomous prefecture or autonomous county are also to be made up, as far as conditions permit, by citizens of the ethnic group that exercises regional autonomy or citizens of other ethnic minorities in that area. The law stipulates that autonomous organs can apply for permission from higher state organs to make alterations in or desist from implementing resolutions, decisions, orders and instructions made by higher-level state organs if they are not in accordance with the situation in autonomous areas. The autonomous organs in national autonomous areas guarantee that citizens of all the local ethnic groups have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to maintain or reform their customs and habits, and, according to law, guarantee that citizens of all ethnic groups enjoy freedom in religious belief.

In recent years the state has continued to pay more attention to guaranteeing the rights and interests of ethnic minorities living in scattered communities. In November 1993, with the State Council's approval, the State Nationalities Affairs Commission promulgated Regulations on Administrative Work of Nationality Townships and Regulations on Urban Nationality Work. They give detailed provisions on how to guarantee the political, economic and cultural rights and interests of scattered ethnic minorities.

The state has always implemented a preferential policy for the economic development of areas where people of ethnic minorities live in compact communities, providing funds, technology and personnel aid. In December 1991 the State Council issued a document requesting governments at all levels to increase input to the autonomous areas and to speed up the aid scheme whereby economically developed areas give aid to ethnic minority areas. It required banks at all levels to give appropriate preferential treatment to autonomous areas in terms of loans for projects of investment in fixed assets. More funds and materials allocated for assisting poor areas should be directed to poor ethnic minority areas.

Aid provided by the state and developed areas to national autonomous areas has promoted their economic development. The total output value of industry and agriculture of autonomous areas in 1994 increased 73.8 percent over that of 1990, the agricultural output value increasing 28.1 percent, the industrial output value increasing 109.1 percent and railway lines open to traffic increasing 27.5 percent. The life of ethnic minorities has improved greatly. In 1990 the average yearly salary for workers and employees in autonomous areas was 2,040 yuan. It was 3,970 yuan in 1994. In 1990 the average yearly income for peasants and herders was 546 yuan. It was 944 yuan in 1994.

Because of its high altitude, poor natural conditions and the dark rule of the feudal serf system for an extended period in the past, Tibet is comparatively backward economically and culturally, so the state has given special care to Tibet's development. In July 1994 the Central Government decided that the rest of China should help Tibet with 62 construction projects with an estimated investment of 2.38 billion yuan. The projects include mainly infrastructure, such as water supply, electricity, roads, power, telecommunications, schools and hospitals. The purpose is to lay a good foundation for the full-fledged development of Tibet. More than 40 projects have been completed and handed over for use. Actual investment has risen to over 3 billion yuan. Completion of these projects has vigorously promoted economic development in Tibet, improved the production and living conditions of Tibetans and raised their standard of living.

Because of historical and geographic reasons, there is still a big gap between the ethnic minority areas and inland and coastal areas in terms of economic and social development. The Chinese government has made great efforts to narrow the gap and has achieved obvious results. It will continue its efforts to bring about a change for the better in backward minority areas.

The Chinese government has always respected and valued the traditional culture of ethnic minorities. It has allocated large sums of money for the protection and maintenance of historical relics and sites of ethnic minorities. Between 1989 and 1994 the government invested 53 million yuan to completely renovate the world-famous Potala Palace in Tibet and finished 111 projects. This is the biggest renovation of the Potala Palace since it was constructed early in the Qing Dynasty in the mid-17th century. In 1991 the government invested more than 30 million yuan and provided manpower and material for the renovation of the Kumbum Monastery, an establishment of Tibetan Buddhism in Qinghai.

The government makes great efforts to nurture and develop the culture and art of ethnic minorities. In March 1992 the third China Art Festival was held in Kunming, Yunnan Province, with 56 ethnic groups participating. In January 1995 a music and dance invitation performance of 56 ethnic groups was held in Shanghai, promoting the development and prosperity of national music and dance. With government support, a number of cultural and artistic troupes of ethnic minorities have visited foreign countries.

The government has always respected and guaranteed ethnic minorities' right to use and develop their own spoken and written languages. In the performance of their functions the autonomous organs in autonomous areas use one or several local languages according to the regulations of autonomy set by the autonomous areas. Broadcasting, television, cinema, books, newspapers and magazines in autonomous areas use one or several local languages. On June 19, 1991, the State Council approved the Circular on the Report Regarding Further Improving Work on the Spoken and Written Languages of Ethnic Minorities submitted by the State Nationalities Affairs Commission and referred it to those concerned. The circular demanded strengthening the formulation of laws governing the use of native languages, standardizing the languages and information processing of the various ethnic groups, and promoting translation, publishing, education, news, broadcasting, television, films, the collating of ancient books, academic research, cooperation and exchanges in native languages and the training of personnel.

Since 1991, with the support of the government, the traditional medical sciences and pharmacies of ethnic minorities have been enriched and developed. More and more people are now engaged in Tibetan, Mongolian, Uygur, Kazak, and Dai medical science and pharmacy--over 6,000 to date. There are over 500 hospitals and folk clinics of medicine of ethnic minorities.

Since the Chinese government respects and guarantees all the rights and interests ethnic minorities are entitled to enjoy under the law, and since it pays much attention to and supports the political, economic and cultural development of autonomous areas, in China's minority areas today the political situation is stable, the economy and culture are developing and the life of ethnic minorities is improving every year. All 56 ethnic groups in China live in harmony, are united and friendly to one another, and support and help one another.