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China, Australia Discuss Ethnic Minority Rights

More than 50 officials from China and Australia gathered together for a seminar on the rights of ethnic minorities on Wednesday and Thursday.

Appropriately enough, it was held in Honghe, an autonomous prefecture of the Hani and Yi ethnic groups in Yunnan Province.

The seminar was co-sponsored by the Foreign Ministry and the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Participants discussed the protection of rights of minority ethnic groups and indigenous peoples in domestic economic development, the protection of their social and cultural characteristics, and the role of NGOs and the private sector in their development.

Shen Guofang, assistant foreign minister, said that the government is trying to secure the decision-making rights of ethnic minorities and ensure that they benefit more from the country's economic development.

He said the government has so far managed to properly balance development and the protection of cultures and natural resources in ethnic minority areas.

Honghe Magistrate Bai Chengliang said Honghe Prefecture will continue to implement the policy of regional autonomy.

The region is trying its best to respect and secure the legal rights of ethnic minorities so as to achieve a balance with economic growth and development, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2004)

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