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The Miao ethnic minority (6)

(People's Daily)

10:07, August 12, 2011

The Miao feudal-lord economy reached its peak and began to decline during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). A landlord economy had taken shape and was in its early stage of development. In 1502, the Ming Court began to abolish the rule of Miao feudal lords, and appointed officials who were subject to recall. During the early years of the Qing Dynasty, these measures were applied to many Miao areas, contributing a great deal to the disintegration of the feudal-lord system and the growth of a landlord economy. In west Guizhou and northwest Yunnan, however, some lords still retained their power, and the feudal-lord economy continued to exist there until the end of the Qing Dynasty.

After 1951, a number of Miao autonomous divisions were established in Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, and Hunan. Most of these autonomous divisions have taken the form of multiethnic autonomy, as the Miaos have for a long time lived harmoniously with the Tujia, Bouyei, Dong, Zhuang, Li and Han peoples.

In some Miao areas, before autonomous authorities were established, priority was given to such things as the election of delegates to the People's congress and the training and appointment of minority administrative staff. Now a large number of Miao people have been promoted to leading posts. In Northwest Guizhou Autonomous Prefecture alone, Miaos account for 68 per cent of the district and township officials.

Before 1949, textiles, iron forging, carpentry, masonry, pottery, alkali making and oil pressing were the only industries in the area. After the birth of the People¡¯s Republic of China, many factories and hydroelectric stations were built. Now electricity is widely used for lighting, irrigation and food processing.

In mountainous areas, the Miaos have built reservoirs, dug canals and created new farmland. They have also developed a diversified economy according to local conditions. As a result, grain production as well as oil, fiber and starch crops and medicinal herbs have all flourished. This has helped to open up new sources of raw materials and supplies for industry and commerce, and improved the Miao people's living standards.

Sheep raising has a long history in Weining Autonomous County, Guizhou, where 265,000 hectares of grassland and trees provide an ideal grazing area. Herds have grown rapidly as a result of the introduction of improved breeds and better veterinary services.

The construction of railways between Guiyang and Kunming, and between Hunan and Guizhou has boosted the development of the Miao areas along the routes. Before 1949, more than half the counties in Qiandongnan Autonomous Prefecture had no bus services.

Cultural, educational and public health provisions have also expanded rapidly. In 1984, there already were 23,000 teachers in Qiandongnan alone, of whom over half were of the Miao or Dong minorities. They set up schools in mountainous areas and brought education to the formerly illiterate mountain villages. Before 1949, the incidence of malaria was as high as 95 per cent in Xinchi village in Ziyun County, Guizhou Province. But since liberation, the disease has been eradicated through massive health campaigns. This is giving rise to the rapid emergence of clean, hygienic and literate Miao villages.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:黄蓓蓓)

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