IV. Promoting the Common Development of All Ethnic Groups
Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, agriculture and animal husbandry, the main economies in China's minority areas, developed very slowly. Some areas still remained in the primitive ``slash-and-burn'' stage of agricultural production, and in some areas, iron farm tool were not in use. In addition, water conservancy facilities were inadequate. In 1949 the average per-hectare yield of grain in minority areas was only 1,125 kg, and the total agricultural output of those areas was only worth 3.12 billion yuan. Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, there were almost no modern industries in ethnic minority areas. In 1949, the total industrial output value of these areas was only 540 million yuan. Communications, posts and telecommunications were also very backward; goods were transported mainly by animals and people. There were very few automobiles or highways, and more often than not, it took one month or longer to deliver a letter. Many people had never seen an automobile or a telephone, and there was not a single road in Tibet.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the state has spared no effort to promote the common development and progress of all ethnic groups. In accordance with the actual conditions in the ethnic minority areas, the state has worked out and adopted a series of policies and measures to assist these areas in developing their economies, and mobilize and organize the developed areas where Han people live to support them. In the Law of the People's Republic of China on Ethnic Regional Autonomy, 13 articles specify the duties of the state organs at higher levels to help the ethnic autonomous areas with their development. While working out the plan for the national economic and social development, the state arranged some important projects in the national minority areas in a planned and conscious way to readjust their single-product economic structure, develop diversified industries and improve the comprehensive economic strength of those areas. Especially along with the constant deepening of China's reform and opening to the outside world in recent years, the state has increased its investments in minority areas to speed up their pace of opening-up, thus making the minority areas show new vitality for economic development.
Strengthening the Construction of Infrastructure Facilities and Promoting the Development of Basic Industries in Minority Areas
During the First Five-Year Plan period (1953-1957), the state started to construct a number of key projects in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, such as the Baotou Iron and Steel Base in Inner Mongolia, the Qingtongxia Hydropower Station in Ningxia, petroleum exploration in Xinjiang and the development of the Hinggan Mountains Forest Area in Inner Mongolia. In the 1950s and 1960s, China completed the Sichuan-Tibet, Qinghai-Tibet, Xinjiang-Tibet and other main highways in minority areas, and built the Baotou-Lanzhou, Lanzhou-Xining, Lanzhou-Urumqi, Guiyang-Kunming, Chengdu-Kunming, Chengdu-Guiyang, and Changsha-Guiyang trunk railways leading to the minority areas in northwest and southwest China. In addition, a large number of large and medium-sized industrial enterprises were set up one after another in minority areas, and a total of more than 1,400 industrial enterprises were set up in the five autonomous regions and the places where ethnic minorities live in concentrated communities in Yunnan, Guizhou and Qinghai provinces.
The state has shown great concern for infrastructure facilities construction and basic industries development in minority areas, giving priority to the arrangement of water conservancy, power, communications, environmental protection and natural resource development projects in central and western China where ethnic minorities are comparatively concentrated. A preferential policy on investment has been adopted so as to guide more foreign investments to those areas. In 1998, of the total increased financial investment by the state, 62 percent was used in central and western China, and the investment made by the central authorities in fixed assets in central and western China increased by 31.2 percent, or 14.9 percentage points higher than that in eastern China and the highest figure since the founding of New China. These policies and measures have greatly promoted the economic development of ethnic minority areas (see Table 3). According to statistics, in 1998 railway traffic mileage in these areas totaled 17,300 km, or 4.6 times the 1952 figure, and the highway traffic mileage, 374,100 km or 14.4 times the 1952 figure. The postal routes and total rural delivery distance came to 1.1354 million km, or 8.6 times the 1952 figure.
Table 3 The Development of Major Industries in National Minority Autonomous Areas in 1952 and 1998
|total industrial output value (100 million yuan)||5.4||5,313.0|
|output of pig iron (10,000 tons)||0.90||701.73|
|output of steel (10,000 tons)||0.06||632.80|
|output of raw coal (10,000 tons)||178.0||17,568.6|
|output of crude oil (10,000 tons)||5.20||2,047.24|
|generated energy (100 million KWH)||0.8||1,323.1|
In recent years, thanks to huge state assistance, Xinjiang has completed a number of modern, technologically advanced large and medium-sized industrial projects, such as the Urumqi General Petrochemicals Factory and the ethylene project of the Dushanzi General Petrochemicals Factory, as well as a number of large communications facilities, such as the Southern Xinjiang Railway, the Tacheng Airport and the high-grade Turpan-Urumqi-Dahuangshan Highway. According to statistics, during the 20 years from 1978 to 1997, Xinjiang completed and put into operation more than 50,000 projects, including 64 large and medium-sized ones, with fixed assets totaling 190 billion yuan. These investments have greatly improved Xinjiang's water conservancy, communications, posts and telecommunications and other infrastructure facilities. Xinjiang has become the fourth-biggest oil producing and processing area in China, as well as an important cotton and woolen textile base and a fur processing base9.
The Central Government has extended special support to the construction of infrastructure facilities and the development of basic industries in Tibet. In 1984, the Central Government organized manpower and material resources from nine provinces and municipalities to help Tibet build 43 projects in just over a year, covering energy, communications, construction materials and municipal works and involving a total investment of 480 million yuan. In 1994, the Central Government also decided that the central authorities and the provinces and municipalities throughout the country should help Tibet construct 62 projects without compensation, with the total investment exceeding four billion yuan. So far, 60 of them have been completed. In 1997 the Yamzho Yumco Water Pumping and Energy Storing Power Station, built with state investment totaling 2.014 billion yuan, was completed and began to generate electricity. According to statistics, from the 1950s to 1998, the Central Government invested more than 40 billion yuan in Tibet, and transported a great amount of materials to it. The aid offered by the Central Government and other provinces and municipalities has greatly improved the construction of infrastructure facilities and basic industries in Tibet. Now Tibet has power, mining, construction materials, forestry, woolen textile, printing, food and other modern industries.
Developing Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in Ethnic Minority Areas
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the governments at all levels, from the central to the local, have actively led ethnic minority farmers and herdsmen to start capital construction on farmland and grasslands, and have adopted various measures to develop the rural economy and improve the agricultural production level. Through various measures, such as providing free farm tools and production capital, reducing and exempting agricultural and animal husbandry taxes, and issuing interest-free or low-interest loans, the Chinese government has made remarkable achievements in supporting the rural economic development of the areas inhabited by minority peoples (see Table 4). In 1998, the net income per farmer in ethnic minority autonomous areas reached 1,633.11 yuan, or 21.5 times the 1980 figure.
Table 4 Main Items of Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Development in National Minority Autonomous Areas in 1952 and 1998
|total agricultural output value (100 million yuan)||31.2||3,210.5|
|grain output (10,000 tons)||1,581.5||7,295.43|
|total number of big livestock (10,000 head)||2,439.2||5,564.7|
In the early 1980s, the Central Government decided on two policies toward Tibet that would not be changed for a long time to come -- ``The land will be used by households, and will be managed by them on their own,'' and ``livestock will be owned, raised and managed by households on their own'' --and offered exemption from taxes to farmers, thus greatly rousing the enthusiasm for production of the farmers and herdsmen, who make up over 80 percent of the total population of Tibet, and resulting in bumper harvests in agricultural production year after year. In 1998, the total grain output of the Tibet Autonomous Region stood at 850,000 tons, or 5.6 times the 1959 figure. To further improve the conditions for agricultural and animal husbandry production, in the 1990s the state has invested more than two billion yuan to comprehensively develop and improve the agricultural infrastructure facilities in the valleys of the Yarlungzangbo, Lhasa and Nyangqu rivers. It is planned that 40 projects will be constructed. After the completion of these projects, 45.6 percent of the existing cultivated area in Tibet will benefit from them. Thanks to the support of the state, since 1989 the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has completed the first and second phases of the comprehensive agricultural development in the Hetao Irrigated Area, reclaimed 40,000 ha of wasteland, and ameliorated more than 100,000 ha of medium- and low-yield fields, enabling an additional production capacity of nearly 400 million kg of grain10.
To accelerate the development of the townships, in 1993 the Chinese government formulated the Regulations on the Administrative Work of Ethnic Townships, specifying that the governments at higher levels should adopt special policies and measures concerning finance, banking, taxation, the construction of infrastructure facilities, and other fields to help ethnic townships to develop their economies. During the Eighth Five-Year Plan period (1991-1995), the Chinese government offered discount-interest loans totaling 100 million yuan every year to assist minority areas in developing township enterprises.
Increasing the Momentum of Reform and Opening-Up in Minority Areas
Since the adoption of the policy of reform and opening-up by China at the end of the 1970s, minority areas, like the other areas throughout the country, have undertaken, along the line of establishing a socialist market economy system, a series of reforms concerning rural areas, state-owned enterprises, taxes, finance, investment, foreign trade, circulation, social security, and housing. Fundamental changes have taken place in their economic systems and operational mechanisms; and the level of marketization and socialization of the local economies have been remarkably improved. Meanwhile, along with the formation of the state omni-directional, multi-level and wide-ranging opening pattern, ethnic minority areas have brought into full play their respective advantages of lying along the coasts, the rivers and the country's borders to actively develop border trade and foreign economic and technological cooperation; and their opening to the outside world has entered a new stage. Their status and role in the nation's overall opening pattern is also becoming daily more pronounced.
Since the end of the 1970s, while adopting various preferential policies, such as extending financial subsidies to minority areas and establishing development funds, the state has encouraged minority areas to actively start the introduction of foreign investment and technology and domestic cooperation, and develop frontier trade according to local circumstances. It has supported minority areas in their efforts to promote the readjustment of their social and economic structures, and strengthen their self-development ability through active and stable reform measures.
In 1987, the state defined that places with right conditions in frontier minority areas should be selected to learn the international experiences of setting up inland development zones and frontier free trade zones, to speed up the opening there. To enliven economy in frontier areas, bring prosperity to frontier residents and promote economic and trade cooperation with adjacent countries, the state decided, in 1992, further to open a number of inland border cities with large minority populations, including Manzhouli and Erlianhot of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Hunchun of Jilin Province, Yining, Bole and Tacheng of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Pingxiang and Dongxing of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. In 1993, the state selected seven ethnic localities--Hulun Buir League, Wuhai City, Yanbian Korea Autonomous Prefecture, Southeast Guizhou Miao-Dong Autonomous Prefecture, Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Golmud City, and Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, as areas for pilot projects for reform and opening-up.
In the 1980s, Beihai City in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was listed as one of the country's 14 coastal open cities; another one city and five counties were named as national coastal economic open zones; Urumqi, Nanning, Kunming, Hohhot, Yinchuan, Xining, Guiyang and other capital cities of ethnic minority autonomous regions and provinces which have fairly large minority populations, were listed as inland open cities; the state also gave approval to Guilin, Nanning, Urumqi and Baotou cities, which are four large and medium-sized cities in minority areas, to establish new- and high-tech industrial development zones.
So far, Xinjiang has established stable economic and trade relations with more than 70 countries and regions worldwide. From 1992 to 1997, Xinjiang's total import and export volume reached 6.99 billion US dollars-worth, with an average annual growth rate of 21.1 percent. The six open cities, the economic and technological development zones, and the frontier economic cooperation zones in Xinjiang have made great achievements in construction and investment solicitation. Xinjiang has opened 15 trading ports, and the completion of the multiple tracking of the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway and the opening of the second Euro-Asia Continental Bridge has resulted in the basic formation of a modernized northwest international thoroughfare.
Since Guangxi adopted the policy of opening to the outside world, its foreign capital has constantly increased. During the Eighth Five-Year Plan period (1991-1995), Guangxi actually utilized 3.24 billion US dollars of foreign capital (including loans from foreign governments), or 6.6 times the figure of the Seventh Five-Year Plan period (1986-1990). By the end of 1997, Guangxi had accumulatively approved 8,505 foreign-invested projects, involving 13.79 billion US dollars of contracted foreign capital, and had actually utilized 6.71 billion US dollars of foreign capital. So far, more than 30 countries and regions have invested in Guangxi11.
Preferential Financial Policies for Minority Areas
The state set up ``ethnic region subsidies'' in 1955, and the Flexible Ethnic Region Fund in 1964, and adopted the preferential financial policy of raising the proportion of the financial reserve fund of the ethnic regions to help minority areas develop their economies and improve the local people's livelihoods. According to statistics, in terms of the above-mentioned three preferential policies, the state had offered 16.8 billion yuan of subsidies to minority areas by 1998. Since 1980, the central financial authorities have adopted a quota subsidy system for the five autonomous regions and the three provinces with large ethnic minority populations--Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai provinces. The above-mentioned three preferential policies have also been included in the quota subsidy system. From 1980 to 1998, the autonomous areas received more than 140 billion yuan of quota subsidies from the central financial authorities. In 1980, the state set up a fund to aid the development of economically underdeveloped areas, of which a large part was used in minority areas. In 1986 the state set up the help-the-poor discount-interest loan and capital for providing employment as a form of relief, of which a large proportion was used in minority areas. In 1994 China began to reform the ``revenue-sharing-scheme'' financial management system. In the meantime, all the original subsidies and special financial allocation policies for minority areas were preserved. With respect to the transfer payment method for the transition period which China adopted in 1995, the state specially added the policy-related transfer-payment contents for the five autonomous regions, including Tibet, and the autonomous prefectures in Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai and other provinces, offering preferential policies to the ethnic minority areas. The policy-related transfer-payment sum has constantly increase along with the growth of the state's financial capacity. In 1998 the ordinary transfer-payment sum by the central authorities to the five autonomous regions and Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai provinces where ethnic minorities are fairly concentrated was nearly 2.9 billion yuan, making up 48 percent of the nation's total transfer-payment sum.
Encouraging the Development of Trade in Minority Areas and Guaranteeing the Production of Articles Used by Minority Peoples
The state adopts preferential policies toward ethnic trade. For instance, since 1963 it has adopted a threefold policy in this regard. This ensures a portion of reserved profits, self-owned capital and price subsidies for minority peoples. To respect the folkways, customs and religious beliefs of ethnic minorities and satisfy their needs for special articles of daily use, the state guarantees the production of more than 4,000 varieties of ethnic articles, which fall into 16 categories, such as garments, shoes, hats, furniture, silks and satins, foodstuff, production tools, handicrafts, ornaments and musical instruments. It has also extended some preferential policies, such as setting up special production bases, giving priority to the guarantee of production capital and the supply of raw and processed materials, reduction of and exemption from taxes, low-interest loans, transportation subsidies, etc.
Since 1991, in light of the new situation of reform and opening-up, the state has made appropriate readjustments in the preferential policies concerning ethnic trade and the production of ethnic articles for daily use. During the Eighth Five-Year Plan period (1991-1995), the state offered preferential treatment to commercial, supply and marketing and pharmaceuticals enterprises and more than 2,300 designated enterprises for producing ethnic articles for daily use in the 426 designated ethnic trade counties in terms of credits, investment, taxation and the supply of commodities, and offered special discount-interest loans for the construction of an ethnic trade network, and the technological transformation of designated enterprises for producing ethnic articles for daily use. As part of a new package of preferential policies offered for the same purpose by the state in June 1997, the People's Bank of China will offer 100 million yuan in a discount-interest loan a year during the Ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000) for the construction of an ethnic trade network and the technological transformation of the designated enterprises for producing ethnic articles for daily use, and the state-owned ethnic trade enterprises and grass-roots supply and marketing cooperatives below the county level (excluding the county) shall be exempt from value-added tax.
Helping Impoverished Minority Areas Get Rid of Poverty
Although the minority people's life has witnessed tremendous improvement since the founding of the people's Republic of China, restricted by geographical conditions, a low social development level, bad production conditions, and lack of scientific, technological and cultural knowledge, western China, where minority peoples live in concentrated communities, is relatively backward as compared with the coastal areas in eastern China. In some minority areas, production and living conditions are fairly difficult, and the people's basic needs of some people are not assured. Since the mid- 1980s, when China started a large-scale help-the-poor drive in an organized and planned way, the state has always attached importance to helping the minority peoples and minority areas
During the help-the-poor efforts in the past decade or so, poverty-stricken minority areas have enjoyed the preferential help-the-poor policy offered by the Chinese government to other poverty-stricken areas, as well as a series of special policies formulated by the state: (1) Expanding the sphere of aiding the minority areas. In 1986, when identifying the most seriously poverty-stricken counties for the first time, the state raised the national unified standard for per capita subsidies in poverty-stricken counties from 150 yuan a year in 1985 to 200 yuan for ethnic minority autonomous counties, and 300 yuan for pastoral areas and certain other counties in minority areas. Of the 331 most seriously poverty-stricken counties designated at that time, 141 were inhabited by minority peoples, making up 42.6 percent of the total. At the start of the State Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program (a program designated to lift 80 million people out of absolute poverty in a period of seven years from 1994 to 2000) in 1994, China readjusted the plan for the state's key poverty alleviation counties, and decided that 592 counties be the state's key poverty alleviation counties, of which 257 were ethnic minority counties, making up 43.4 percent. (2) Giving priority to poverty-stricken ethnic minority counties in terms of the distribution of help-the-poor capital and materials. While distributing the help-the-poor capital and materials, the Chinese government put the five autonomous regions on the same footing as western China, placing them all on the priority list. Some provinces and autonomous regions allocate special funds to help the poverty-stricken ethnic minority counties while distributing the help-the-poor funds. According to incomplete statistics, from 1996 to 1998 the state allocated 16.95 billion yuan from the Central Government's help-the-poor funds to the 257 poverty-stricken ethnic minority counties, making up 45 percent of the total. (3) Arranging special help-the-poor funds for the poverty-stricken ethnic minority areas. Since 1983, the Central Government has allocated a yearly 200 million yuan of special funds for the agricultural construction of the arid ``three Xis'' (Dingxi and Hexi prefectures in Gansu Province, and Xihaigu Prefecture in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region), where ethnic minority people live in concentrated communities; and it will continue to do so up to the year 2002. In 1990, the state set up the ``basic need fund for the poverty-stricken ethnic minority areas,'' putting stress on helping the 143 poverty-stricken ethnic minority counties throughout the country. (4) Actively conducting cooperation with international organizations in poverty alleviation and development in the poverty-stricken ethnic minority areas. Since 1995, the World Bank has implemented three phases of a help-the-poor project in China, involving a total loan of 610 million US dollars, and covering 43 poverty-stricken ethnic minority counties in Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and other places. (5) Organizing the provinces and municipalities in east China to start help-the-poor cooperation with the minority areas. In 1996 the Central Government decided to organize nine developed coastal provinces and municipalities and four cities with economic planning directly supervised by the State Council to help 10 poverty-stricken provinces and autonomous regions in western China. In the past three they have donated money and materials valued at 1.04 billion yuan, and carried out 2,074 cooperation projects, involving a total investment of nearly four billion yuan.
Thanks to the help-the-poor efforts in the last decade or so, the production and living conditions of the people of the minority areas in China have improved remarkably. From 1995 to 1998, 257 poverty-stricken ethnic minority counties had solved the drinking water problem for 10.92 million people and 15.14 million head of livestock; the poverty-stricken population of the five autonomous regions shrank from 8.35 million to 4.73 million; the poverty rate dropped from 12.4 percent to 6.9 percent; and the net annual income per farmer in the poverty-stricken counties increased from 833 yuan to 1,395 yuan. Meanwhile, the construction of infrastructure facilities in minority areas has been further speeded up. Between 1995 and 1998 about 667,000 ha of basic farmland were constructed, newly built highways and rough roads extended 69,000 km, and transmission and transformer lines totaled 117,000 km.
Implementing a More Lenient Childbirth Policy with Minority Peoples Than with the Han People
To improve the quality of the ethnic minority population and accelerate the economic and social development of the ethnic minority autonomous areas, the people's congresses of these areas have formulated their own family planning policies toward the ethnic minorities in light of the spirit of the state's regulations concerning the need also for minority peoples to practice family planning. These policies are more lenient than those with the Han people. Under these policies, an ethnic minority family generally may have two or three children; in frontier areas and areas with adverse geographical conditions, families of ethnic minorities with very small populations may have more than three children each; and Tibetan farmers and herdsmen in the Tibet Autonomous Region may have as many children as they like. As a result, ethnic minority populations have been able to increase at a higher rate than the rest of the population. The population of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang was 4.54 million, according to the first national census, taken in 1953, and it increased to 9.46 million in the fourth census, taken in 1990. By 1998, the total population of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang was 10.4601 million, accounting for 62 percent of the total population of the autonomous region. In 1952, the Tibetan local government, headed by the 14th Dalai Lama, reported to the Central Government that the population of Tibet was one million. By the end of 1998, the population of Tibet had increased to 2.52 million, of which the increase of Tibetan population was 1.2 million. At present, the Tibetan population accounts for 94 percent of the total population of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Helping the Minority Areas to Develop Education
Education among national minorities is an important part of the education of China. The development of education among national minorities is of paramount importance to the improvement of the quality of the minority population and the promotion of economic and cultural development in ethnic minority areas. In conformity with the needs of the modernization drive and the policies of educational development, the state persists in proceeding from the characteristics of minority peoples and the reality of minority areas and gives active support and assistance to minority peoples in their efforts for educational development.
The state has adopted many policies and measures to support the development of education among minority peoples. For instance, it respects the autonomous areas' right to develop ethnic education on their own, attaches importance to teaching in minority languages and bilingual teaching, strengthens the building of the ranks of minority teachers, offers special care in terms of funds, runs ethnic institutes, schools and classes that enroll students for future service in specific areas or units, actively starts counterpart educational support between inland provinces and municipalities and minority areas, and mobilizes the whole nation to support education in Tibet.
The state has paid great attention to promoting universal compulsory education in poverty-stricken areas, especially poverty-stricken ethnic minority areas. In 1993, the relevant government departments proposed that counterpart support and cooperation between the economically and educationally advanced provinces and municipalities and the 143 poverty-stricken ethnic minority counties under government supervision should be started, and defined the cooperative relations and the main tasks of helping the poor through education. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance jointly organized the implementation of the state's compulsory education project for the poverty-stricken areas. In accordance with the project's plan, between 1995 and 2000, the central authorities will invest 3.9 billion yuan into this project, which will exceed 10 billion yuan if the supporting capital to be contributed by local authorities is added to it. The launching of this project will play an important role in promoting the popularization of compulsory education in poverty-stricken ethnic minority areas. The state encourages people to help minority areas to develop basic education through the ``Hope Project'' and other forms. For instance, the Western Hunan Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture has founded 136 Hope primary schools, thus enabling tens of thousands of poverty-stricken minority children to attend to school.
The state itself runs a number of ethnic institutes and schools. By the end of 1998, the state had independently founded 12 ethnic universities and institutes, 59 ethnic teachers' training schools, 158 ethnic secondary vocational schools, 3,536 ethnic middle schools, and 20,906 ethnic primary schools. Ethnic institutions of higher learning, secondary specialized schools and adult institutions of high learning and ordinary higher educational institutions, conduct quite a number of preparatory classes for minority peoples. In 1998, more than 80 institutions of higher learning in China held such classes, with a planned enrollment of 7,142 students. Preparatory education has played a great role in improving minority students' basic cultural knowledge, and enabling more minority students to continue their studies at secondary and higher specialized schools. It has become a unique way of developing education geared to the needs of minority students.