The China Development Bank (CDB), the country's biggest policy bank, will extend a loan of 40 billion yuan (US$5 billion) over the next five years to facilitate programs for the development of 22 ethnic minority groups with smaller population.
Zhou Rongwei, vice director of the Business Development Bureau of the CDB, made his comments on the project Monday when undertaking research work in southwest China's Guizhou Province where many minority groups live in poverty.
The move is an endorsement of the Plan for Supporting the Development of Ethnic Groups with Smaller Population (2005-2010), which was mapped out by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC) and approved by the State Council in May 2005.
Among China's 55 ethnic minorities there are 22, each with a population of less than 100,000.
They are Gaoshan, Blang, Salar, Maonan, Achang, Pumi, Tajik, Nu, Ozbek, Russian, Ewenki, De'ang, Bonan, Yugur, Jing, Tatar, Drung, Oroqen, Hezhe, Moinba, Lhoba and Jino.
They live in 640 villages in the Inner Mongolia, Guangxi Zhuang, Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions and the Heilongjiang, Fujian, Guizhou, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. In total there are 630,000 people.
The economic development level of these minority groups lags far behind the country's average and this is related to unfavorable natural conditions.
According to statistics, of 640 villages 56 percent have no potable water, 54 percent no access to clinics, 39 percent no primary schools and 42 percent no telephone or postal services.
The plan sets out goals of markedly improving the infrastructures of the villages and effectively solving the problems faced by these minority groups.
The goals include access to electricity, roads, radio, TV and telephones for most of the villages; and having schools, clinics, safe drinking water for people and animals, economic housing and sufficient resources in farmland or pasture to ensure adequate food and clothing.
Zhou said his office is cooperating with county governments concerned to establish financing and credit platforms for developing compatible financial products for local people.
Together with SEAC, the CDB is undertaking studies in various regions to seek out practical funding methods and cooperative ways for implementation of the plan, Zhou said.
Besides the support from the CDB, the National Development and Reform Commission pledged last year to allocate 1 billion yuan (US$125 million) in next five years, while the Ministry of Finance will arrange for 600 million yuan (US$75 million) to support the poverty relief work for the 22 minority groups.
(China.org.cn by Wang Zhiyong, April 7, 2006)