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Home >> China
UPDATED: 10:35, February 28, 2005
Facts and figures: Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China
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The Information Office of China's State Council on Monday issued a white paper titled Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China. The following facts and figures are released by the document:

Fifty-six Ethnic Groups

So far, 56 ethnic groups have been identified and recognized by the central government. According to the fifth national census, conducted in 2000, the population of all the 55 ethnic minority groups totaled 104.49 million, accounting for 8.41 percent of the total population of China.

Ethnic Autonomous Regions

By the end of 2003, China had established 155 ethnic autonomous areas. Of these, five are autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (banners).

Of the 55 ethnic minorities, 44 have their own ethnic autonomous areas. The population of ethnic minorities practicing regional autonomy accounts for 71 percent of the total population of ethnic minorities, and the area where such regional autonomy is practiced accounts for 64 percent of the entire territory of China.

Ethnic townships have been established for nine of the 11 ethnic minorities where the regional autonomy policy is not implemented because the populations and areas of the ethnic minorities are relatively small.

The Right of Self-Government of Ethnic Autonomous Areas

Among the chairmen or vice-chairmen of the standing committees of the people's congresses of all 155 autonomous areas in China there are citizens of the ethnic group or groups exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned. The heads of all autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties are all citizens of the ethnic groups exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned.

In the Tenth National People's Congress there are 415 deputies of ethnic minorities, accounting for 13.91 percent of the total number of deputies, 5.5 percentage points higher than the proportion of their populations in the nation's total. Every ethnic group has its own NPC deputy or deputies.

The Right to Formulate Self-Government Regulations and Separate Regulations

By the end of 2003, ethnic autonomous areas had formulated 133 self-government regulations and 384 separate regulations. In light of the particular situation in each area, ethnic autonomous areas have made flexible alterations or provide supplementary regulations to 68 provisions in such laws as the Marriage Law, Inheritance Law, Election Law, Land Law and Grassland Law. The Law of the People's Republic of China on Legislation stipulates, "Self-

government regulations and separate regulations may contain provisions which have been flexibly altered on the basis of existing laws or administrative regulations to suit the particular conditions of the ethnic group."

Ethnic Languages in the Windows System

Soon after New China was founded, the state helped a dozen ethnic minorities improve or create their own written languages. The 55 ethnic minorities in China, except for the Chinese-speaking Hui and Manchu, each have their own language. Software in the Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur and Korean languages can be run in the Windows system, and laser phototypesetting in these languages has been realized.

Religious Belief of Ethnic Minorities

By the end of 2003, there were 1,700 sites in Tibet Autonomous Region for Buddhists to conduct religious activities, and some 46,000 resident monks and nuns; there were 23,788 mosques and 26,000 clerical personnel in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region; and there were 3,500 mosques and 5,100 clerical personnel in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

World Heritage

By the end of August 2004, China had 29 world cultural and natural heritage sites. Two of the cultural heritage sites, namely the Potala Palace in Lhasa and the Old Town of Lijiang; and three of the natural heritage sites, namely Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic & Historic Interest Area, Huanglong Scenic & Historic Interest Area and the scenic spot of Three Parallel Rivers, are located in ethnic autonomous areas. In addition, the Dongba classical

documents of the Naxi ethnic group are included in the World Memory Heritage List.

Development of the West

During the five years since the launching of the strategy of development of the western part of the country, the construction of 60 important projects has begun, with a total investment of 850 billion yuan. They play an important role in promoting the economic and social development of the ethnic autonomous areas.

Training for High-level Personnel

To enhance training for high-level backbone personnel from ethnic minorities, the Chinese government has decided, on an experimental basis, to enroll 2,500 students for Master's and PhD programs from ethnic minority areas in 2005, and the goal of 2007 is to enroll 5,000 people, thus making the total number of such students reach 15,000.

GDP of the Ethnic Autonomous Areas

In 2003, the GDP of China's ethnic autonomous areas reached 1,038.1 billion yuan, exceeding 1,000 billion yuan for the first time. From 1994 to 2003, the GDP of the ethnic autonomous areas grew by an average of 9.87 percent annually, which was nearly one percentage point higher than the national average.

Domestic Income

In 2003, the per-capita net income of rural residents in ethnic autonomous areas was 1,895 yuan, 2.31 times that in 1994.

Pairing off Developed Areas and Ethnic Autonomous Areas for Aid

From 1994 to 2001, 15 assistance-providing provinces, and ministries and commissions under the State Council gave assistance gratis for the construction of 716 projects, with the input of funds totaling 3.16 billion yuan. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, Tibet received assistance and grants totaling 1.062 billion yuan from all over the country for the construction of 71 projects.


The state has set up special institutions to collect, assort, translate and study in an organized and programmed manner the three major heroic epics of China's ethnic minorities, i.e., Gesar (an oral Tibetan epic), Jangar (a Mongolian epic) and Manas (an epic of the Kirgiz people).

Today, each of the 55 ethnic minorities in China has its own brief written history.

The Buddhist Tripitaka

In the past decade, the state has appropriated over 30 million yuan for the collation and publishing of 160 volumes of the Buddhist Tripitaka in the Tibetan language.

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