IV. Rights of Ethnic Minorities, Women, Children, the Elderly and People with Disabilities

From 2012 to 2015, China has taken measures to effectively protect the rights and interests of ethnic minorities, women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, and basically achieved the planned goals.

(1) Rights of ethnic minorities

The right of ethnic minorities to participate on an equal footing in the management of state and social affairs has been protected in accordance with the law. All 55 ethnic-minority groups in China have representatives in the National People's Congress. All the ethnic-minority groups with a population of more than one million have members on the NPC Standing Committee. In each of the 155 ethnic autonomous areas, among the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the standing committee of the people's congresses there was one or more citizens of the ethnic group or groups exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned, and the head of any autonomous region, autonomous prefecture or autonomous county (banner) has to be a citizen of the ethnic group exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned. The proportion of ethnic minority civil servants in the national total has surpassed that of the ethnic minority population in the national total.

Cultivation of ethnic minority talents has steadily progressed. Since 2012, relevant state organs have selected more than 2,100 cadres from Western China and other ethnic regions and dispatched them to organs of the CPC Central Committee and the state as well as to regions with a comparatively prosperous economy where they assume a temporary post for personal training and development. The state carried out "Light of the West", "The Special Cultivation Plan for Leading Professionals of Science and Technology in Ethnic Minority Regions" and other major talent development policies and projects, training more than 3,000 technological professionals for Tibet, Xinjiang and other western regions. Medical undergraduate students expected to provide general practices in targeted ethnic minority regions are educated free of charge, with the government offering a subsidy at a standard rate of 6,000 yuan per student per annum (for 5-year undergraduate programs). Since 2013, the state has launched training projects in ethnic areas, including training of rural health workers in major practices, training of leading doctors in county-level hospitals and training of general practitioners in job transfers.

The right of ethnic minority groups to develop their economy has been guaranteed. Between 2012 and 2015, the central government arranged an ethnic minority development fund of 14.824 billion yuan, in exclusive support of the actions to enrich border areas and their residents, efforts to develop ethnic minorities with a relatively small population, efforts to promote ethnic minority style villages and stockade villages, and efforts to preserve and develop ethnic minorities' traditional handicraft. The state appropriated 5.8 billion yuan from the central budget to help the construction of infrastructure, improvement of production and living conditions of the general population and the development of social undertakings in border regions and areas inhabited by people of ethnic minorities with a comparatively small population. The number of poverty-stricken people in the 5 autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia and Xinjiang and the 3 provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai plummeted from 31.21 million in 2012 to 18.13 million in 2015. In the same period, the GDP of the eight ethnic minority regions increased from 5850.5 billion yuan to 7473.6 billion yuan, and the per capita disposable income of permanent residents in cities and towns soared from 20,542 yuan to 26,901 yuan.

The development of education among ethnic minorities has gained speed. Boarding school students from ethnic groups with a relatively small population who receive compulsory education in rural areas are provided with a living allowance at a standard rate of 250 yuan per person per annum. The policy of free board, lodging and tuition is applied to children of farmers and herdsmen in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the standard of expenses has steadily increased with the current standard being 3,000 yuan per person per annum. Every year, a separate compulsory education aid of 20 million yuan is set aside for the special purpose of subsidizing the living allowances of poverty-stricken students in boarding schools in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The government launched the standard high school construction project in ethnic minority regions with a weak educational infrastructure, with 7 billion yuan appropriated from the central budget from 2012 to 2015 in support of the construction of 318 standard high schools in ethnic minority regions. The state continues to implement the preferential policy in favor of ethnic minority students in national entrance exams. From 2012 to 2015, institutions of higher-learning directly under the State Ethnic Affairs Commission planned a total enrollment of over 124,000 undergraduate students, including more than 46,000 from the eight ethnic minority regions. Institutions of higher-learning affiliated with other central departments and local institutions of higher-learning planned a total enrollment of 185,000 ethnic minority students in preparatory classes. Between 2012 and 2015, projects for the cultivation of high-level talents from ethnic minority groups recruited and trained a total of 16,000 post-graduate students and 4,000 PHD students.

Bilingual education has made steady headway. In 2015, the schools that offered bilingual education, ranging from preschools to standard high schools, numbered more than 12,000 with 225,400 bilingual teachers and 3.4912 million students. Every year, more than 3,500 types of secondary and primary school textbooks in ethnic minority characters were published with more than 100 million copies printed.

Teaching conditions in ethnic minority regions have been further improved. From 2012 to 2015, the central government allocated 1.025 billion yuan in support of the middle and western China projects and kindergarten teacher projects under the National Cultivation Plan in 5 ethnic autonomous regions, providing training to more than 870,000 teachers of secondary and primary schools and kindergartens. Normal universities directly under the Ministry of Education offer free education and provide 42,000 teachers to ethnic minority regions. "The Plan of Cultivation of Postgraduate Teachers in Rural Education" provided 4,364 rural teachers to ethnic minority regions. Between 2011 and 2015, 528 projects in aiding Xinjiang education were carried out, with an investment of 10.8 billion yuan, and offering training to 130,000 teachers. 5,300 teachers were selected and dispatched from other regions to Xinjiang for the projects. By the end of 2015, the number of various projects to support education in Tibet had reached 405, with the funding adding up to 938 million yuan, providing training to 6,829 people and moving 3,585 people to Tibet to support the projects. The number of various projects to support education in Qinghai had reached 134, with a total funding of 670 million yuan.

The cultures of ethnic minorities are protected. By the end of 2015, 9 natural and cultural sites scattered in ethnic minority regions including the Potala Palace had been added to the World Cultural Heritage List. 14 ethnic minority arts including Uygur Muqam of Xinjiang had been added to the UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and another 4 including Qiang New Year Festivals had been added to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. 10 experimental zones for cultural protection in ethnic minority regions have been established. 479 ethnic minority heritage items and 524 inheritors from ethnic minority groups have been put respectively on the four national representative lists of intangible cultural heritage and the four national lists of representative inheritors of intangible cultural heritage that have been made public. The book series of explanatory notes on ancient books of ethnic minority groups, entitled Synopsis on the General Catalogue of Ancient Books of Ethnic Minority Groups of China, was published in 2014.

The spoken and written languages of ethnic minority groups have been protected and developed. Efforts have been made to promote the regulation, standardization and computerized processing of these languages. Projects have been initiated for the research and formulation of regulations on the transliteration of people's names to Mandarin from Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Kazakh, Yi and other minority languages. Work has been done on the research and formulation of the table on commonly used Mongolian words, the regulation of translation between Tibetan and Latin, and the standards on determining correct characters and pronunciations in modern Uygur literature language. Databanks on minority languages on the brink of extinction have been set up. The Project on the Protection of Chinese Language Resources has been initiated and implemented. By the end of 2015, 54 ethnic minority groups were using more than 80 spoken languages of their own ethnic groups, and 21 ethnic minority groups were using 29 written languages of their own ethnic groups. Up to 200 radio stations nationwide broadcast in 25 ethnic minority languages. 32 publishing houses of various types publish books in ethnic minority languages. 11 film dubbing centers have been set up throughout the country, using 17 ethnic minority languages and 37 ethnic minority dialects. From 2012 to 2015, they finished the dubbing of a large number of movies into minority languages amounting to more than 3,000 versions.

(2) Women's rights

Figure 1: Proportions of females in various-level people's congresses and people's political consultative conferences

Women enjoy the chance to participate on an equal footing with men in the management of state and social affairs. Female deputies account for 23.4 percent of all deputies in the 12th NPC, 2.07 percentage points higher than the previous congress. There are 25 female members in the12th NPC Standing Committee, accounting for 15.5 percent of all members. There are 399 female members in the 12th CPPCC, accounting for 17.84 percent of the total. Women deputies who served their tenures from 2011 to 2013 accounted for 24.76 percent of all deputies in the provincial people's congresses, and female members accounted for 22.22 percent in the provincial people's political consultative conferences. In 2015, the proportion of females in the leadership of provincial governments increased notably from that in 2012. In 2014, females in enterprises made up 40.1 percent and 41.5 percent of the members on boards of directors and boards of supervisors, respectively.

Women enjoy the equal right with men to employment. The state implemented the same-age retirement policy for both cadres of section rank in authority organs and public institutions and technical personnel with senior professional titles. In 2014, female employees accounted for 44.8 percent of all people employed across the country. The state implemented an interest-deducted small loan policy, where the government pays part of the interest, to encourage women's employment and self-employment. Since 2009, it has provided 260.704 billion yuan in guaranteed loans for startups, with subsidized interest payments, to aid nearly 10 million women to start businesses or find a job.

The freedom of women in rural areas to enjoy land rights in accordance with the law is basically guaranteed. The state carried out legal publicity and training in grassroots village committees and strengthened the efforts to file, review and rectify village regulations and folk rules. In the process of determining and registering the right to land contracting and management, and in the process of issuing certificates concerning this right, women's rights to land were reflected through registration books and real estate ownership certificates.

The level of health services for women has been raised continuously. In April 2012, the State Council promulgated the Special Rules on the Labor Protection of Female Employees, revising and improving some items including the scope of application and range of forbidden labor, as well as extending statutory maternity leave to 98 days. In 2015, maternity insurance covered 77.12 million women across the country and per capita treatment expenditure reached 16,456 yuan, 2,000 yuan more than in 2014. In 2015, 12.05 million couples who wanted to have babies received free physical tests, with the average coverage rate in target groups amounting to 96.5 percent. During the period of 2011-2015, nearly 50 million pregnant women in rural areas received hospital delivery subsidies, and the rate of women in the countryside giving birth in hospitals increased from 97.8 percent in 2010 to 99.5 percent in 2015. The maternal mortality rate lowered from 30 out of 100,000 in 2010 to 20.1 in every 100,000 in 2015. By the end of 2015, 51.95 million and 7.47 million rural women had free tests for cervical cancer and breast cancer, respectively.

The state legislated to protect women from domestic violence. On December 27, 2015, the NPC Standing Committee approved the Anti-domestic Violence Law, in which systems, such as police cautions, writ of habeas corpus and mandatory reporting, were specially set up. The Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued the Opinions on Handling Domestic Violence Cases in Accordance with the Law, so as to intensify the prompt judicial intervention in domestic violence. From 2014 to 2015, the Supreme People's Court published a total of 15 typical cases related to domestic violence. Some local public security organs and courts effectively prevented and stopped domestic violence in a timely way by actively exploring and using police cautions and personal safety protection orders.

The state has made headway in cracking down on the crimes of abduction and trafficking of women. The General Office of the State Council published China's Action Plan Against Human Abducting and Trafficking (2013-2020) in order to strengthen efforts to crack down on such crimes. From 2014 to 2015, a total of 2,412 cases of abducting and trafficking women were cleared up by public security organs. China also launched campaigns against cross-border crimes of abducting and trafficking women, promoting cooperation processes with six Mekong River Sub-region countries.

(3) Children's rights

Children's right to health is effectively guaranteed. The mortality rate of infants reduced from 13.1 out of 1,000 in 2010 to 8.1 in 2015. And the mortality rate of children under the age of five was 10.7 out of 1,000, 5.7 points lower than in 2010. In 2014, the incidence rates of low weight in infants and children under the age of five were 2.6 percent and 1.48 percent, respectively, with the expected goals achieved ahead of schedule. Over 97 percent of children were vaccinated in the national immunization program. In 2014, the average vaccination rate exceeded 99 percent going forward.

The state has steadily implemented a nutrition enhancement program for students receiving compulsory education in rural areas. By the end of October 2015, the national pilot program was launched in 699 concentrated destitute counties in 22 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), benefiting 21.1516 million students. Also by the same time, the program was carried out on a local trial basis in 673 counties in 23 provinces, benefiting 10.9078 million students.

The situation regarding school buses and campus safety has been continuously improved. A series of normative documents, including the Regulation on School Bus Safety Management formulated by the State Council and the Standard for Compulsory Education School Management set up by the Ministry of Education, have been promulgated since 2012. By the end of 2015, a total of 37 pilot zones on safety education had been set up throughout the country, covering 128,000 schools with 52 million students.

Left-behind children are taken good care of. The central government supported the implementation of the "Pilot Project on Community Care Services for Rural Left-behind Children," benefiting more than 200,000 left-behind children. It has collected 67 million yuan in social charity funds to aid the establishment of 670 "Happy Homes for Children" across the country since 2014. A series of care activities, including acting parents, twinning and help for children in need, was carried out, benefiting 13.129 million such children.

Female minors' rights are further protected. The Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law abolished the crime of prostituting female minors under the age of 14, improving the legal system on protecting female minors from sexual abuse. The state continues to launch special operations to combat attempts to identify the sex of a fetus other than for medical purposes and attempts to terminate a pregnancy once the sex of a fetus identified is not desired. In 2015, in terms of the gender ratio, for every 100 females there were 113.5 males, the seventh narrowing of the gap in a row since 2009.

Efforts to protect and support minors have been further intensified. By the end of 2015, there were 1,605 welfare institutions for children and 407 independent relief and protection agencies for minors nationwide, both of which increased substantially over the same period in 2012. In 2015, 23,000 orphans with disabilities were adopted by families, accounting for 4.4 percent of all such orphans, and a total of 149,700 children across the country were provided with relief. The state made sure that children affected by AIDS/HIV related illnesses can learn or continue their study at school without being affected by family difficulties. It has made efforts to protect the privacy of AIDS/HIV-affected children and prevent them from any form of discrimination. The Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law strengthened criminal punishment for buyers of abducted women and children, and those engaged in any activity concerning the buying of abducted women and children will be held criminally responsible. By the end of 2015, the national anti-trafficking DNA database had helped over 4,000 missing children find their parents. From 2014 to 2015, the state solved 2,216 cases of trafficking in children. The Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and related departments successively promulgated the Opinions on Punishing the Crime of Sexual Assault against Minors and the Opinions on Legally Handling Several Issues on Guardians' Infringement upon the Rights and Interests of Minors, so as to beef up judicial protection on juveniles. The state implemented the Provisions on the Prohibition of Using Child Labor, and further intensified efforts to safeguard children's rights and interests in the field of labor.

(4) Senior citizens' rights

The social security system for the aged is gradually being improved. The advanced-age allowance system was set up in 23 provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government). The old-age service allowance system for seniors in financial difficulty was carried out in 20 provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government). The nursing care allowance system for senior citizens with disabilities was launched in 8 provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government), while accident injury insurance for the elderly was introduced in 20 provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government).

Figure 2: Basics of national old-age services by the end of 2015

The old-age social service system is being rapidly developed. By the end of 2015, there were 115,000 institutions and facilities offering services for the elderly, an increase of 151 percent from 2012. Home-based care service facilities for the aged covered basically all urban communities and over 50 percent of rural communities. By the end of 2015, there were a total of 6.717 million beds for the elderly nationwide, averaging 30.3 beds for every thousand senior citizens, 60.9 percent and 40.5 percent higher than those in 2012 respectively, which far exceeded the planned targets.

Senior citizens' cultural lives are being much enriched. By the end of 2015, there were 763,00 schools for the elderly across the country, 180 national-level and over 500 provincial-level community education pilot zones and demonstration zones, with the elderly accounting for over 60 percent of all participants in community education. There were 24 newspapers and 24 periodicals specially for the aged. The state provided a variety of digital cultural resources suitable for the elderly through various channels including the National Cultural Information Resources Sharing Project, the National Digital Culture Network and Chinese Culture Network TV.

(5) Rights of people with disabilities

The system on the protection of rights and interests of people with disabilities has been constantly improved. Since August 2012, the State Council successively formulated the Regulations on the Construction of a Barrier-free Environment and the Opinions on Accelerating the Development of a Well-off Course for People with Disabilities. The Supreme People's Procuratorate and the China Federation of the Disabled jointly distributed the Opinions on Effectively Protecting the Disabled Persons' Lawful Rights and Interests in Procuratorial Work. The state has established and improved mechanisms for the provision of legal assistance to the disabled, offering free, timely and convenient legal services for them.

People with disabilities are covered by social security. By 2015, the state had established a living subsidy system for the financially-challenged disabled population and nursing care allowances for the severely disabled across the country. There were 10.884 million people with disabilities in both urban and rural areas receiving minimum subsistence allowances, nearly 22.3 million people with disabilities in both urban and rural areas participating in social endowment insurance schemes and 3.023 million urban disabled dwellers participating in basic medical insurance schemes. During the period of 2012-2015, 4.962 million impoverished people with disabilities in rural areas were lifted out of poverty and 3.17 million poor disabled residents in rural areas received skills training, with the planned targets achieved in advance. The central government allocated a total of 3.74 billion yuan in rehabilitation and poverty-relief interest-deducted loans to support 743,000 impoverished disabled people. The state subsidized the renovation of dilapidated houses of 1.164 million rural households with disabled members.

The rehabilitation service for people with disabilities is being continuously enhanced. By the end of 2015, a total of 222,000 communities had established rehabilitation stations across the country. From 2012 to 2015, 8.544 million people with disabilities received community rehabilitation services. 12.466 million received basic rehabilitation services, achieving the expected goal ahead of schedule. From 2011 to 2015, the central government appropriated 432 million yuan to support rehabilitation training for 36,000 autistic children living in poverty. The supporting devices network covering both urban and rural areas is gradually being improved, offering 6.655 million supporting devices of various types.

The rights of people with disabilities to education, employment and culture are further guaranteed. The state implemented the Special Education Promotion Program (2014-2016), in an effort to fully expand the reach of special education and guarantee the ability and the quality of education and teaching. In 2015, there were 2,053 special education schools nationwide, with a total enrolment of 442,200 students and 50,300 full-time teachers. From 2012 to 2015, the central government appropriated 925 million yuan as a special education subsidy. The state carried out "the Special Education School Construction (Second Phase) Project" and allocated more than 2.442 billion yuan to support the infrastructure construction of 61 secondary vocational schools and vocational higher education institutions for people with disabilities and special normal schools for higher learning. In 2015, related departments published the Administrative Provisions on Disabled Persons' Participation in the National College Entrance Examination (temporary), in an effort to guarantee disabled people's right to receive education equally, and actively enhanced the revision work on the Education Regulations for the Disabled in order to strengthen legal guarantee. In 2012 they published the Notice on Strengthening Vocational Training for People with Disabilities to Promote Employment, so as to make sure that the disabled who wish to find a job can get relevant vocational training. Starting from 2014, the recruitment of disabled college graduates by Party and government organs, public institutions, state-owned enterprises and other units were guaranteed by policies. By the end of 2015, the state had set up reading rooms for people with visual impairments in public libraries at all levels, with an additional collection of 486,000 books in braille and 21,000 seats in those rooms. The state hugely expanded the scale of publications in braille. From 2011 to 2015, the state published 476 textbook titles with 692,000 copies in braille printed, 5,526 books for blind people with 1.3319 million copies printed, 1,138 big-word books for people with poor eyesight with 1.1234 million copies printed, and 2,400 types of audio books for the blind with a total length of 16,000 hours. The expected goals were achieved ahead of schedule and exceeded. Some excellent publication projects for the blind people were included in the National Publication Plan. Any qualified project was supported by the National Publication Fund.

The state quickened the construction and renovation of barrier-free facilities. Related departments revised and carried out the Management Measures for Air Transport of Persons with Disabilities and the Standards for Barrier-free Designs; published the Guiding Opinions on Strengthening the Construction of a Barrier-free Environment in Villages and Towns; and drew up and implemented the Requirements on Barrier-free Technologies for Website Design. It provided special seats for people with disabilities in all trains and allowed guide dogs to board trains. The state established additional barrier-free parking places on urban roads and in public parking areas within buildings and set up audio signal devices for people with visual impairments on pavement traffic signal facilities. It subsidized 573,000 families of the disabled to carry out renovation of barrier-free facilities.