The Chinese government will pour 300 million yuan (US$38.8 million) every year for the next four years into the development of 22 ethnic minority groups.
The investment will be used to improve the infrastructure and living conditions of these ethnic groups," said Yang Jianqiang, deputy director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC).
The 22 ethnic minorities, including Maonan, Sala, Bulang and Tajik, have a total population of 630,000. Most of them live in impoverished western regions and border areas in 10 provinces or autonomous regions such as southwestern Yunnan, Guizhou, northwestern Xinjiang and northern Inner Mongolia.
They had an annual per-capita net income of 884 yuan at the end of 2003, far below the average figure of 2,622 yuan for farmers. About one fifth of the people in ethnic minority-inhabited villages still live in absolute poverty.
The funds are expected to help provide safe drinking water, roads, communications and comfortable housing, and assist with the development increase of specialized agricultural industries.
(Xinhua News Agency April 3, 2007)