VI. Protection and Development of Cultures of the Ethnic Minorities
Culture is an important characteristic of an ethnic group, and a source of its vitality, creativity and cohesion. The cultures of China's ethnic minorities are a vital part of Chinese civilization, and are intellectual assets owned by the entire Chinese nation.
The Constitution of the People's Republic of China stipulates that the state helps the ethnic minorities to accelerate the development of their cultural undertakings according to the characteristics and needs of the ethnic minorities. The Chinese government adopts various policies and measures to respect, protect and support the inheritance, development and innovation of the cultures of the various ethnic minorities, to encourage all ethnic groups to enhance their cultural exchanges, and develop their cultural undertakings.
Protecting and developing the spoken and written languages of the ethnic minorities
In the 1950s the state conducted a survey on the spoken and written languages of its ethnic minorities, on the basis of which the state established special institutions to do research work on these languages and help minority people create or improve their scripts. Of all the 55 ethnic minorities in China, 53 have their own spoken languages, except the Hui and Manchu that use the Han language. Among them 22 use 28 scripts, and 12 ethnic groups, including the Zhuang, Bouyei and Miao, use 16 scripts which have been created or improved with the help of the government. Now, there are approximately 60 million minority people in China who regularly use their own spoken languages, accounting for over 60 percent of the total population of the ethnic minorities, and about 30 million minority people who regularly use their own scripts. There are 154 radio and television stations using the languages of the ethnic minorities in ethnic autonomous areas, and the Central People's Broadcasting Station and local broadcasting stations broadcast in 21 minority languages daily. The publishing houses specializing in publishing for the ethnic minorities have increased from 17 in 1978 to 38, located in Beijing and 13 other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, and the number of minority languages they use has grown from five to 26. In 2008, a total of 5,561 titles of books in minority languages were published, with a total print-run of 64.44 million, 6.41 times and 6.37 times the figures in 1978 respectively. The autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet have stipulated and enforced relevant regulations and detailed implementation rules concerning the use and development of their own spoken and written languages.
In order to make the minority peoples share the fruits of the information age, the state has adopted various measures to promote the normalization, standardization and information processing of the scripts of the ethnic minorities. So far, the state has formulated national standards for coded character sets, keyboards and fonts of Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur (Kazak, Kirgiz), Korean, Yi, Dai and others, which, submitted by China, have been included in the latest edition of the international standards. A number of electronic publishing systems and office automation systems have been developed, and some websites and web pages in minority languages have been built. Some relevant software can already be operated via Windows.
Supporting and helping the ethnic minorities to develop education
The Chinese government has always attached importance to the development of education in the minority areas. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the state called a number of working conferences to make plans for promoting education among the ethnic minorities. The Constitution, the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and the Compulsory Education Law all expressly include provisions on helping the ethnic minorities to develop education. In central and local educational administrative departments at all levels, offices in charge of ethnic-minority education administration have been specially set up to implement and enforce the state policies on education of the ethnic minorities, and to study and handle special issues. Special subsidies for education of the ethnic minorities have been earmarked at both the central and local levels in order to meet the expenditure needs due to ethnic and geographical reasons for the ethnic minorities. Especially since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies, the minority areas have witnessed unprecedented development in elementary education, vocational education and higher education, as well as in teachers' training, "bilingual education" and education in ethnic unity. In 2002 the Decision on Deepening the Reform and Accelerating the Development of Education among the Ethnic Minorities issued by the State Council further clarified the general and specific policies and specified overall plans in this regard. In 2005, in the Outline of the Eleventh Five-year Plan for National Education, it is clearly stipulated that the country will stick to the principles of regional planning and classified guidance, and it is emphasized that public educational resources will be tilted in favor of the rural areas, central and western regions, poverty-stricken areas, border areas and areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities.
In recent years, the state has successively implemented the project of compulsory education in poverty-stricken areas, the project of renovation of dilapidated school buildings in rural primary and secondary schools, and the project to make nine-year compulsory education basically universal and to basically eliminate illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults in the western regions. The central finance has invested a total of over 29 billion yuan, thus greatly improving the conditions of schools in the minority areas. At present, in the whole country there are 20,906 ethnic-minority primary schools and 3,536 ethnic-minority secondary schools. Other schools of various levels and various types all enroll minority students as well, and grant them due preferential treatment. In 2004 the state started to implement in the rural areas of western China the policy of "Two Exemptions and One Subsidy" (exemption from incidental fees and textbook payment and subsidy for boarding), which has brought benefits to the great majority of minority students. Since 2006, the reform of the rural compulsory education funding mechanism has been carried out in the western regions as a first step. For ethnic minorities and minority areas with special difficulties, the state allocates special funds. For example, each year some 120 million yuan is allocated to rural primary and secondary schools in agricultural and pastoral areas of Tibet to implement the "Three Offers" — offering free meals, offering free boarding and offering free schooling. By the end of 2008, in the minority areas, the number of counties that had reached the targets of making nine-year compulsory education basically universal and basically eliminating illiteracy among the young and middle-aged had amounted to 674, accounting for 96.6 percent of the total number of counties in these areas.
In order to strengthen understanding and communication between the ethnic groups, to enhance ethnic relations of equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony, and to promote the common development of all ethnic groups, for many years the Chinese government has committed to developing "bilingual" teaching (teaching with a language of the ethnic minorities and the Han Chinese language) in areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities, and has achieved good results. By 2007, in the country there were altogether over 10,000 schools using 29 scripts of 21 ethnic minorities to carry out bilingual teaching, and the total number of students attending these schools was over six million.
The state supports higher education development in the minority areas through measures such as "paired-up" educational support for institutions of higher learning in western China, cooperating with local authorities to co-found institutions of higher learning in areas inhabited by the ethnic minorities, strengthening the establishment of special disciplines and degrees, and expanding enrolment. At present, in the minority areas there are 167 general institutions of higher learning, with 77,000 teachers and 1.235 million students. The state renders great support to the development of vocational education in the minor-ity areas. In 2008, the central government invested 827 million yuan in the five autonomous regions, helped build 83 county-level vocational education centers and secondary vocational schools for demonstration purposes, as well as 145 practical training bases of vocational schools and 10 international demonstration vocational higher schools; and al-located 974 million yuan as a state stipend for students of secondary vocational schools in the five autonomous regions, financially aiding over 830,000 students, accounting for 90 percent of the students at-tending these schools.
Through 60 years of efforts, the educational undertakings in the minority areas have scored considerable achievements. By the end of 2008, the number of minority students attending schools of all levels and all types in the whole country amounted to 21.996 million, among which the number of minority students attending general primary schools was 10.708 million, accounting for 10.4 percent of all such students; the number of minority students attending general secondary schools was 6.802 million, making up 8.5 percent; and the number of minority students attending general institutions of higher learning was 1.339 million, making up 6.2 percent of all such students. The overall cultural quality of the minority peoples has achieved significant im-provement. According to the fifth national census in 2000, for 14 eth-nic minorities, including the Korean, Manchu, Mongolian and Kazak, the number of years of education has surpassed the national average. At present, there are university students from all the 55 ethnic groups, and for about a dozen ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Hui, Ko-rean and Naxi, the average number of university students per 10,000 people has already surpassed the national average.
Rescuing and preserving cultural heritage of the ethnic minorities
A national planning group and office for collecting and publishing ancient books of the ethnic minorities have been established by the state to organize the work for the recovery, sorting-out and protection of ancient books of the ethnic minorities. By the end of 2008, several million titles of ancient books of ethnic minorities had been collected, of which over 110,000 had been edited. As many as 377 ancient titles of the ethnic minorities have been included in the first and second batches for the National Catalogue of Precious Ancient Books, and five institutions including the China Ethnic Library have been listed among the first and second groups of important institutions for the preservation of ancient books at the national level. Among them, the ancient Dongba literature manuscripts of the Naxi ethnic group have been listed in UNESCO's Memory of the World. In addition, the Chi-nese government has set up special institutions for the collection, edit-ing, translation and research of the three major epics of the ethnic minorities: Gesar of the Tibetans, Jianggar of the Mongolians, and Manas of the Kirgiz, and significant progress has been made in the work. In recent years, the state has earmarked a large sum for the col-lating and publishing of the Tripitaka in China, an encyclopedia of Ti-betan studies in 150 volumes.
For over three decades since the 1950s, more than 3,000 experts and scholars organized by the state completed their research, editing and publishing of five ethnic-minority subjects, including a series of books on the ethnic minorities in China, a series of books on concise histories of the ethnic minorities in China, a series of books on the languages of the ethnic minorities in China, a series of books on the overview of ethnic autonomous areas in China, and a series of mono-graphs resulting from the survey of social histories of the ethnic mi-norities in China, totaling 403 volumes, 100 million Chinese characters and a print-run of over 500, 000 copies. In recent years, the state has organized the work for revision and reprinting of the above five series. From the 1950s up to now, the state has organized three large-scale surveys, striving to find the folk cultural and artistic materials of the minority peoples and prevent them from falling into oblivion. The government has also organized over 100,000 people and finished, after 30 years of effort, the compilation of the Ten Collections of China's Folk Cultures and Arts of Ethnic Groups, a key subject of the National Philosophy and Social Sciences Plan. The collections comprise 298 volumes (450 sub-volumes) in 500 million Chinese characters. In ad-dition, the state has also organized and completed the publishing of 108 titles on various artistic theories of the ethnic minorities, totaling approximately 25 million Chinese characters.
Beginning in the 1980s, the state has invested large sums in the renovation and maintenance of key cultural relics sites under the state protection, including the Drepung, Sera and Gandan monasteries in Lhasa of Tibet, the Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai Province and the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Cave in Xinjiang. Between 1989 and 1994, the state invested 55 million yuan, 1,000 kg of gold and a large quan-tity of silver in repairing the famous Potala Palace. Since 2001 the Chinese government appropriated 380 million yuan as a special fund for repairing the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery. In the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006-2010), the government will in-vest 570 million yuan as special fund for the maintenance and protec-tion of 22 major cultural relics sites in Tibet. Since 2005 the state has input 400 million yuan for preserving over 20 key cultural relics and historical sites in Xinjiang in the 11th Five-year Plan period. To date, in ethnic autonomous areas there are 366 key cultural relics and his-torical sites under state protection, of which two are included in the World Heritage List — Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace in Lhasa and the Old Town of Lijiang, and three are cited as World Natu-ral Heritage — Jiuzhaigou Valley, Huanglong Scenic and Historic In-terest Area and Protected Area of Three Parallel Rivers (Nujiang, Jinsha and Lancang) in Yunnan.
The state also attaches great importance to the preservation of the intangible cultural heritage of the ethnic minorities. Since 2002, funds from the central coffers have totaled 386 million yuan for preserving intangible heritage items, a quarter of which has been used in minority areas. Among the two groups of 1,028 items on the national intangible cultural heritage list published by the State Council, 367 are associated with the ethnic minorities, taking up 35.7 percent of the total. All the 55 ethnic minorities in China have their own items on the list. Among the three groups of 1,488 representative inheritors of national intangi-ble cultural heritage projects, 393 belong to the ethnic minorities, ac-counting for 26.4 percent. The Mukam Art of the Uyghur people and the Mongolian Long Folk Songs have been listed in the third group of UNESCO's "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Mankind."
Promoting the ethnic minorities' cultural and artistic undertakings
In the early 1950s, the national-level Central Ethnic Song and Dance Ensemble was established. In recent years, by undertaking the project of "Long Cultural Corridor Construction in the Border Areas," the projects of setting up county-level libraries and cultural centers, township and town cultural stations and village cultural rooms, the project of "extending radio and TV coverage to every village," and the national cultural information resources sharing project, the state has greatly improved the public cultural service system in the minority ar-eas, and enriched the cultural life of the people of the minority areas. By the end of 2008 there were 10,282 cultural and art institutions across China, of which 651 were art troupes, 191 sites for art perform-ances, 604 libraries, 80 mass art centers, 643 cultural centers, 6,859 cultural stations and 240 museums. At present, the number of cultural institutions owned by every 100,000 people in the minority areas has already surpassed the national average.
The state actively protects the fine traditional cultures of the ethnic minorities. Tibetan opera, which has a history of over 500 years, is well preserved and flourishing. Every year it is a must for the Shoton Festival, and, together with other singing, dancing and drama per-formances, makes the festival a most joyous event of the Tibetan peo-ple. The traditional festivals of the ethnic minorities, such as the Mongolian Nadam Fair, the Ramadan Festival of the Hui, the Kurban Festival of the Uyghur, the Antiphonal Singing Day of the Zhuang, the Water Sprinkling Festival of the Dai, and the Torch Festival of the Yi, are well preserved and promoted. To date, more than 290 kinds of tra-ditional ethnic sports have been revived and are thriving. The mural art of the Tibetans is being continuously enriched, and the Tibetan art of Tangka is well preserved. The carpets and wall hangings made by the Uyghur and Mongolian peoples are very popular in the Chinese market. The batic art of the Bouyei, Miao, Yao and Gelao ethnic groups as well as the tapestry art of the Tujia, Zhuang, Dai, Li and Dong ethnic groups have been greatly improved in designs, patterns and varieties. Thus the traditional crafts of the ethnic minorities have regained their vigor.
A large number of people with literary and artistic talent among the ethnic minorities are coming to the fore, and literary and artistic crea-tion is becoming increasingly flourishing. There are 24 art colleges and secondary art schools in the five autonomous regions and Yunnan, Guizhou and Jilin provinces specially for training artistically talented people from among China's ethnic minorities. Nearly 600 writers of the ethnic minorities are members of the Chinese Writers' Association, constituting more than 10 percent of its total membership. A multitude of outstanding ethnic writers and artists, outstanding films, singing and dancing performances reflecting the life of minority peoples become most popular. Many such songs and dances have spread all over the country, and produced a wide influence both at home and abroad. It is stipulated in state regulations that the festival of performances of eth-nic-minority arts shall be held every four years. Three have been held already. In addition, the National Traditional Ethnic-Minority Sports Meet shall be held every five years, and eight have been held already. The "Stallion Award" competitions for films, television programs and literary works reflecting life of minority peoples are held regularly. In addition, there are various kinds of ethnic singing and dancing com-petitions. Through the Spring Festival Gala of the China Central TV, some good ethnic-minority performances are shown to the whole na-tion. All these have promoted the creation of top literary and art works of the ethnic minorities as well as cultural exchanges among all ethnic groups.
Fostering the ethnic-minority medical tradition
Ethnic-minority medicine forms an important part of the treasure-house of Chinese medicine and pharmacology. Based on investigation, sorting-out and study of medicinal materials, specialists of 35 ethnic minorities out of the total 55 have collected and compiled their own medical compendiums. Ethnic-minority medicine has been developed and is widely used. In 1992 the state gave permission for the setting up of centers for the production of a dozen kinds of Mongolian, Tibetan and Uyghur traditional pharmaceutical preparations and over 100 kinds of traditional medicines with the combination of traditional and modern expertise. China has 35 research institutes of ethnic-minority medicine at or above the county level, employing a total of about 1,500 research personnel. In addition, the state has organized the compilation of the Materia Medica of Ethnic Groups in China, listing 396 kinds of Tibetan medicine, 422 kinds of Mongolian medicine, 423 kinds of Uyghur medicine and 400 kinds of Dai medicine in separate volumes. The work is of high scientific value and most authoritative.
The state vigorously supports the building of medical institutions of the ethnic minorities. By the end of 2008, 15 ethnic minorities had their own ethnic-minority-medicine hospitals. There are altogether 191 such hospitals with 8,694 beds across the country. Among them, 70 are Tibetan medicine hospitals, 51 are Mongolian medicine hospitals, 39 are Uyghur medicine hospitals, and 31 are hospitals specializing in the traditional medicine of the Dai, Korean, Zhuang, Miao and Yao peoples. Beginning in 2006, the state has given priority to the construction of 10 key ethnic-minority-medicine hospitals, including those specializing in Tibetan, Mongol, Uyghur, Dai, Korean, Zhuang, Miao and Tujia traditional medicine, aiming at enhancing the overall level of diagnosis and treatment in ethnic-minority-medicine hospitals.
The state has launched specialized education programs on ethnic-minority medicine in 14 educational institutions, and is making great efforts to foster medical specialists of minority peoples. Of the institutions, five are colleges of ethnic-minority medicine, four are secondary schools of ethnic-minority medicine, and five are non-ethnic educational institutions with majors in ethnic-minority medicine. To date, there are 17,000 undergraduates studying in ethnic-minority medical schools all over China, in addition to 3,964 graduates. Six ethnic-minority medicine traditions, namely, those of the Tibetan, Mongolian, Uyghur, Dai, Korean and Zhuang, are included in the National Qualification Examination for Doctors. The number of medical personnel specialized in ethnic-minority medicine has reached 10,000, an important guarantee for the improvement of the physical health of all minority peoples.