The people's congress system is the fundamental political system by which the Chinese people act as masters of the state. The Chinese people exercise state power through the National People's Congress (NPC) and the local people's congresses at various levels.
China has adopted a unicameral parliamentary system based on its national conditions, rather than the bicameral system instituted in Western countries. The Chinese Constitution stipulates: the NPC of the PRC is the highest organ of state power. In China, all administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs of the state are created by the people's congresses to which they are responsible and by which they are supervised. All major issues of the state are decided by the people's congresses. The administrative organs are responsible for implementing the laws, resolutions and decisions adopted by the people's congresses. The courts and procuratorates exercise their respective powers of jurisdiction and prosecution independently, in line with the stipulations of the law, free from interference by any administrative authority, social organization or individual.
The NPC and the local people's congresses at various levels are established through democratic elections. They are responsible to the people and subject to their supervision. The Chinese Constitution states that all citizens who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of ethnic status, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status or length of residence, except for persons deprived of political rights in accordance with the law. The deputies to the local people's congresses at county and township levels are elected directly by the electors. Over the years, the population that has enjoyed the right to vote and stand for election has accounted for more than 99 percent of the number of citizens at or above the age of 18, and the ratio of participation in elections has been around 90 percent. Due to China's realities, the deputies to the people's congresses above the county level are elected indirectly, that is, by the people's congress at the immediately lower level. A competitive election system is adopted in both direct and indirect elections in accordance with the law. The electors and the electoral units have the power to recall or replace deputies they have elected according to the procedures prescribed by law. At present, there are 2.8 million deputies to the people's congresses at all levels nationwide, and they are from various ethnic groups, trades, social strata and political parties and are therefore highly representative. The deputies from workers and farmers account for a considerable proportion of deputies to people's congresses at different levels. For instance, worker and farmer deputies account for 18.4 percent of the total number of deputies to the Tenth NPC (March 2003-March 2008). To ensure that state power is truly in the hands of the entire people, the deputies must convey and represent the interests and will of the people when exercising their functions and powers. They have the right to propose bills, examine and discuss bills and reports, and vote on bills in accordance with the law, and may not be held legally liable for their speeches or votes at the meetings of the people's congresses.
The Chinese Constitution and law stipulate that the term of office of each NPC and each of local people's congresses at various levels is five years, and the NPC meets in session once a year, and local people's congresses at various levels meet at least once a year. The Election Law of People's Congresses also prescribes that the number of deputies to each NPC shall not exceed 3,000. Since the number of deputies to the NPC is fairly large and makes it inconvenient to hold frequent meetings, the NPC Standing Committee is established in accordance with the stipulation of the Constitution to exercise the functions and powers of the highest organ of state power when the NPC is not in session. The NPC Standing Committee normally meets once every two months. It is composed of one chairperson, a number of vice-chairpersons, one secretary-general and a number of members. The Standing Committee of the Tenth NPC has 175 members, including one chairperson and 15 vice-chairpersons. Standing committees have also been established by local people's congresses at and above the county level. The members of the Standing Committee of the NPC and standing committees of the local people's congresses at and above the county level are elected from among the deputies to the people's congresses in competitive elections, and for the same term as the NPC and local people's congresses at the corresponding levels. The people's congresses and their standing committees pursue a democratic style of work, draw on the wisdom of all deputies, and represent and convey the will and basic interests of the people. The principle of absolute majority is observed when the people's congresses and their standing committees vote on bills, that is, a bill can only be adopted by the agreement of more than half of the total number of members. Amendments to the Constitution are adopted by a vote of more than two-thirds of all the deputies to the NPC.
When the people's congresses and their standing committees hold meetings, persons in charge of departments concerned may attend as non-voting delegates, and the departments and individuals concerned may audit. Those attending as non-voting delegates have the right to speak, but not the right to vote. Those auditing are not entitled to speak. If they have any comment on the bills discussed by the standing committee, they may submit their opinions to the working organ of the standing committee in writing. In recent years, the standing committees in some localities have opened their doors to citizens who wish to be observers at their meetings. The auditors are chosen in sequence of applications of citizens.
The people's congresses have four main functions and powers: legislation, supervision, appointment and removal of officials, and making decisions on major issues. These functions are a major reflection of the way the Chinese people exercise their power as masters of the state through the system of people's congress.
-- Power of legislation. The Chinese Constitution states that the NPC and its Standing Committee exercise the legislative power of the state, mainly to amend the Constitution, and enact and amend the basic laws concerning criminal offences, civil affairs, state organs and other matters. The people's congress at provincial level and its standing committee may, in the light of the specific conditions and practical needs of that particular administrative area, enact local regulations under the precondition that the regulations they enact must not contravene the Constitution, the law or the administrative regulations of the state. The people's congress of a big city and its standing committee may, in the light of the specific conditions and practical needs of the city, enact local regulations under the precondition that the regulations they enact must not contravene either the Constitution, the law or the administrative regulations of the state, or the regulations of the province or autonomous region the city belongs to, and submit the newly enacted local regulations to the standing committee of the people's congress of the province or autonomous region for approval be-fore they are put into effect. The people's congress and its standing committee of a province or city that has special economic zones may, in line with authorization by the NPC, enact local regulations that take effect within the special economic zones. The people's congresses of the ethnic autonomous areas have the power to enact regulations on the exercise of autonomy and other separate regulations in the light of the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the ethnic group(s), and make appropriate adaptations of the laws and administrative regulations.
In the three decades from 1949, when the PRC was founded, to 1978, the NPC formulated 134 laws, 16 of which are still in force today. When the reform and opening-up policies were initiated in the late 1970s, China's socialist democratic legal construction entered a new era. In 1982, the NPC revised the Constitution, and adopted four amendments to it in the ensuing years. So far, the NPC and its Standing Committee have enacted more than 200 laws that are still in effect and over 200 decisions on legal issues. The local people's congresses and their standing committees have enacted more than 7,500 local regulations that are still in effect, and the people's congresses of ethnic autonomous areas have enacted more than 600 regulations on the exercise of autonomy and other regulations.
In recent years, democracy has been promoted continuously in China's legislation. Experts are invited to give their opinions at symposia organized on the draft of almost every bill. In some cases, the legislative organ even entrusts specialized research institutions to draft the bills. For bills aiming at adjusting important social relations, the standing committees of local people's congresses often hold hearings to let parties with different interests voice their opinions. The Legislation Law of China has included provisions on legislative hearings. Since 1982, the NPC and its Standing Committee have published the drafts of a dozen important bills that are closely related to the immediate interests of the people, including the amendments to the Constitution, the draft for revision of the Marriage Law, the draft of the Contract Law, and the draft of the Property Law, to solicit public opinion during the process of formulation. The direct participation of the people in the formulation of laws has not only improved the quality of legislation and ensured that the laws fully represent the will and demands of the people, but has also enhanced the whole society's sense of law, so that the laws can be enforced in a smooth way after adoption.
Power of supervision. To supervise the enforcement of the Constitution and the law is a major content of the supervisory power exercised by the NPC and its Standing Committee. The basic way such supervision is carried out is by examination of the enforcement of laws and by checking the reporting of regulations for the record. Regarding the examination of law enforcement, the Standing Committee of the Ninth NPC conducted 22 examinations of the enforcement of 21 laws, and the Standing Committee of the Tenth NPC examined the enforcement of 10 laws in the period 2003-2004. The standing committees of the local people's congresses have also examined the enforcement of laws and relevant regulations within their respective administrative areas. Through the examination of law enforcement, the standing committees of the people's congresses have obtained detailed information about the true situation and existing problems in the enforcement of laws and regulations, and urged the governments, the courts and the procuratorates at the same level to improve their law-enforcement work, and thus ensured that the organs in charge of law enforcement act in accordance with the law and exercise judicial power justly. Regarding checking on the reporting of regulations for the record, more than 7,500 local regulations, 600 regulations on the exercise of autonomy and separate regulations, and nearly 300 regulations applied to the special economic zones have so far been filed to the NPC Standing Committee for the record. The Standing Committee of the Tenth NPC has set up a special examining organ to further standardize this work. The standing committees of the people's congresses at the provincial level and of big cities have also examined, in accordance with the law, the reporting of rules and regulations for the record by the local governments. Through these efforts, rules and regulations that contravene the Constitution and the law are annulled, and organs that have formulated regulations that include inappropriate articles and clauses are urged to correct them. This is of great significance for keeping the legal system of the state in unison. In recent years, the NPC Standing Committee has started to examine the reporting for the record of judicial interpretations by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
To supervise the work of the governments, the courts and the procuratorates are another important part of the supervisory power of the people's congresses and their standing committees at the corresponding level. To hear and review the work reports of the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate are a basic means by which the NPC and its Standing Committee exercise their power of supervision. When the people's congresses are in session, the people's governments, people's courts and people's procuratorates at the same level shall report their work to the session, and the people's governments shall submit their draft budgets and draft plans for national economic and social development, and the draft budgets shall be reviewed for approval by the session. When the standing committees of the people's congresses are in session, they hear work reports and reports on issues that are significant to the reform, development and stability, as well as urgent topics or difficulties that are related to the immediate interests of the people. The Standing Committee of the Ninth NPC heard and reviewed 40 special reports during its five-year tenure, and the Standing Committee of the Tenth NPC has heard and reviewed 22 special reports in the first two years of its tenure.
Power of personnel appointment and removal. The people's congresses and their standing committees have the power to elect, decide on, appoint or remove, replace or recall members of relevant organs of state power. The NPC elects the president and the vice-president of the PRC, and the chairperson of the Central Military Commission of the state; decides on the choice of the premier of the State Council upon nomination by the president; decides on the choice of the vice-premiers, state councilors, ministers in charge of various ministries or commissions, the auditor-general and the secretary-general of the State Council upon nomination by the premier; upon nomination by the chairman of the Central Military Commission of the state, decides on the choice of all other members of the Central Military Commission; and elects the president of the Supreme People's Court and the procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. The local people's congresses at all levels exercise their power to elect, decide on, appoint or remove, replace or recall members of local organs of state power in accordance with the law.
- Power to making decisions regarding major issues. The NPC is entitled by the Constitution to approve the establishment of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government, decide on the establishment of special administrative regions and the systems to be instituted there, and decide on questions of war and peace, and other major issues. Issues that are significant to the national economy and social development, such as the Three Gorges Project, can only be implemented after a resolution has been made by the NPC. In recent years, the people's congresses and their standing committees have exercised their power to make decisions on urban construction planning, environmental protection and other major issues in their own areas.
Practice has proved that the system of people's congress is a fundamental political system that is in accord with the national conditions of China, embodies the nature of the socialist state of China and ensures the people to be the masters of the country. It has taken root among the masses and, therefore, is full of vigor; it represents the common will and fundamental interests of the people, and motivates the whole people to plunge in state construction as the masters of the state, guarantees that state organs operate in a coordinated and efficient way, and safeguards national unification and ethnic unity. Through the system of people's congress, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups hold the future and destiny of the state and the nation firmly in their own hands. IV. The System of Multi-Party Cooperation and Political Consultation Under the Leadership of the CPC.
What kind of political party system to adopt is determined by the nature of the country, the national conditions, as well as the demands of national interests and social development. The political party system China has adopted is multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, which is different from both the two-party or multi-party competition system of Western countries and the one-party system practiced in some other countries. This system was established and has been developed during the long-term practice of the CPC and democratic parties in the course of the Chinese revolution, construction and reform. It is a result of the united struggle of the CPC and the democratic parties through thick and thin and is a basic political system in contemporary China.
There are nine political parties in China at present. Besides the CPC, there are the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (founded in 1948), the China Democratic League (founded in 1941), the China National Democratic Construction Association (founded in 1945), the China Association for Promoting Democracy (founded in 1945), the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (founded in 1930), the China Zhi Gong Dang (founded in 1925), the Jiusan Society (founded in 1945) and the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (founded in 1947). Since most of these political parties were founded during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945) and the War of Liberation (1946-1949) in the pursuit of national liberation and democracy of the people, they were given the joint name of "democratic parties." In present-day China, these democratic parties are political alliances of the socialist working people, builders of socialism and patriots who support socialism, among whom they have maintained ties respectively. Another important force in China's political life is the personages without party affiliation, or people who have not joined any political party but have certain public influence coupled with positive contributions. The majority are intellectuals.
The salient characteristics of China's political party system are: multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the CPC, with the CPC holding power and the democratic parties participating fully in state affairs. These democratic parties are close friends of the CPC. They unite and cooperate with the latter in their participation in state affairs, instead of being opposition parties or out-of-power parties. They participate in the exercise of state power, the consultation in fundamental state policies and the choice of state leaders, the administration of state affairs, and the formulation and implementation of state policies, laws and regulations.
In China, the CPC and the democratic parties share the same goal of struggle. The Chinese Constitution states that "under the leadership of the Communist Party of China multi-party cooperation and the political consultative system will continue to exist and develop for a long time to come." The cooperation between the CPC and the democratic parties is based on the basic principle of "long-term coexistence, mutual supervision, treating each other with sincerity and sharing each other's weal and woe." The national conditions and the nature of the state determine that the leadership of the CPC is the first and foremost prerequisite and fundamental guarantee for the multi-party cooperation. At the same time, such a leadership is not one of simple monopoly, but one of political leadership, that is, leadership in terms of political principle, political orientation, and major policies and programs. Both the CPC and the democratic parties take the Constitution as the basic norms of their conduct, and shoulder the responsibility to uphold the dignity of the Constitution and ensure its implementation.
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is an organization of the patriotic united front of the Chinese people. It is an important organ of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, and an important instrument of democracy in the country's political life. The CPPCC National Committee is composed of members of the CPC and the democratic parties, personages without party affiliation, representatives of people's organizations, ethnic minorities and all walks of life, representatives of compatriots of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, as well as of returned overseas Chinese and other specially invited people, who are divided into several circles. The CPPCC National Committee has one chairperson, a number of vice-chairpersons and one secretary-general, serves for a term of five years, and holds a plenary session once a year. The provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government establish CPPCC committees of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The autonomous prefectures, cities divided into districts, counties, autonomous counties, cities not divided into districts and districts under the jurisdiction of cities, where there are suitable conditions for setting up local committees, may establish CPPCC committees in the corresponding areas. The tenure of these committees is five years, and a plenary session shall be held at least once a year. The CPPCC conducts its work centering on the two themes of unity and democracy, and exercises the functions of political consultation, democratic supervision, and participating in the administration and discussion of state affairs. The CPPCC plays an important role in the state's political life, social life and overseas friendship activities, as well as the country's modernization drive and the struggle to safeguard national reunification and unity. The CPC and the governments at all levels consult the CPPCC on fundamental policies and important issues in political, economic, cultural and social affairs before a decision is adopted and during the implementation of such decisions, so as to heed and canvass a wide range of opinions. This is a key link for the CPC and the governments at all levels to ensure that decision-making is scientific and democratic.
The increasing importance of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC in the state's political and social life can be specified as follows: -- Political consultation between the CPC and the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation has been gradually institutionalized and standardized. The CPC Central Committee rou-tinely invites leaders of the democratic parties and representative personages without party affiliation to consultative conferences, small-scale meetings and forums at which CPC leaders inform the participants of major events, hear their opinions and suggestions, and discuss state affairs with them. In addition to these consultation meetings, the central committees of the democratic parties may submit suggestions in writing to the CPC Central Committee. Consultations may cover important documents of the CPC National Congress and the CPC Central Committee; proposed amendments to the Constitution and important laws; candidates for senior offices of the state; important decisions concerning the reform and opening-up program; the medium- and long-term plans for national economic and social development; major issues that have a bearing on the overall situation of the country; circulation of information about important documents and situations, and soliciting of opinions; as well as other major issues that need to be discussed with the democratic parties. In 2003 and 2004, 36 consultative conferences, forums and briefings were convened by CPC leaders or entrusted by them to be convened by relevant departments, 13 of which were presided over by the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation play an important role in the people's congresses. Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation hold an appropriate proportion in the deputies to the NPC, the Standing Committee and the special committees of the NPC. Through their activities in the people's congresses, they reflect the wishes of the people, participate in decision-making on major state issues and in the formulation of laws, and supervise the work of the government. In 2003, when a new term of office began, 176,000 members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation were elected deputies to the people's congresses at various levels nationwide. Among them, seven are vice-chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee and 50 are members of the NPC Standing Committee; 41 are vice-chairpersons of the standing committees of provincial-level people's congresses and 462 are members of such standing committees; and 352 are vice-chairpersons of the standing committees of municipal-level people's congresses and 2,084 are members of such standing committees.
-- Members of the democratic parties and personages without party affiliation actively participate in the country's reform and opening-up and modernization drive, and make suggestions to promote the reunification of the motherland and overall social progress. Since 1989, the central committees of the democratic parties have submitted to the CPC Central Committee, the State Council and departments concerned nearly 180 important proposals on the overall work of the CPC and the state, as well as on issues that are key to the national economy and the people's livelihood, especially the two major tasks of economic construction and peaceful reunification, on the basis of investigations they have conducted, and their local organizations have submitted more than 80,000 proposals and motions. Many of the proposals and motions have been adopted. The local organizations of the democratic parties at various levels have devised more than 40,000 consulting programs, run more than 1,000 schools of various kinds and trained about 3 million people in various special skills.
In February 2005, the CPC promulgated the "Opinions of the CPC Central Committee on Further Strengthening the Building of the System of Multi-Party Cooperation and Political Consultation Under the Leadership of the CPC," which, on the basis of summing up historical experience and successful operations in multi-party cooperation and political consultation, further clarified the principles, contents, ways and procedures of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation, and pointed the direction for improving the socialist political party system with Chinese characteristics.
The political advantages of the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC lie in the fact that it can both achieve wide democratic participation, pool the wisdom of the democratic parties, mass organizations and people of all walks of life and promote the scientific and democratic decision-making of the party in power and the governments at all levels, and realize centralization and unity and draw up unified plans with due consideration given to the interests of different sections of the people. Moreover, it can avoid both the problem of insufficient supervision common under one party rule, and political chaos and a lack of stability and unity that may be caused by the disputes and strife of several parties.
formulation and implementation of major principles and policies of the CPC and the government; and the performance and honesty of the CPC organizations and CPC members who hold leading posts. In recent years, government departments and judicial organs have appointed members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation as special inspectors, invited and organized members of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation to examine the work style of the CPC, and to take part in other special checks and supervision over law enforcement, thus further opening up the channels of, and constantly strengthening, democratic supervision.
China is a unitary multi-ethnic country. To date, 56 ethnic groups have been identified and recognized by the central government. The population of the Han ethnic group accounts for the majority. As the population of the other 55 ethnic groups is relatively small, they are customarily referred to as "ethnic minorities." According to statistics collected in the fifth national census, conducted in 2000, the population of all ethnic minority groups totaled 106.43 million, accounting for 8.41 percent of the national total.
To solve the problems of ethnic groups, different systems have been adopted by different multi-ethnic countries around the world, and what China practices is the system of ethnic regional autonomy. Ethnic regional autonomy means that, under the unified leadership of the state, organs of self-government are established for the exercise of autonomy and regional autonomy is practiced in areas where people of ethnic minorities live in compact communities. China's adoption of ethnic regional autonomy to solve the ethnic problems is an institutional arrangement based on its own historical development, cultural characteristics, ethnic relations and distribution of the ethnic groups, as well as other specific conditions, which is in accord with the common interests of all ethnic groups and their demands for development. Both the Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy contain clear stipulations on ethnic regional autonomy and its implementation. The system of ethnic regional autonomy is a basic political system of China.
Ethnic autonomous areas in China are divided into three levels, namely, autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties. In 1947, before the People's Republic of China was founded, under the leadership of the CPC, the first provincial-level autonomous region in China -- the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region -- was established in the liberated areas inhabited by Mongolians in compact communities. After New China was founded in 1949, the Chinese government began to introduce the system of ethnic regional autonomy to all areas where ethnic minorities lived in compact communities. In October 1955, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was established; in March 1958, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was established; in October 1958, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was established; and in September 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was established. Now, China has established 155 ethnic autonomous areas, including five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (banners). Of the 55 ethnic minorities, 44 have their own autonomous areas. The population of ethnic minorities implementing regional autonomy accounts for 71 percent of the total population of ethnic minorities. Meanwhile, China has established 1,173 autonomous townships in places equivalent to townships where ethnic minorities live in compact communities, as a supplement to the autonomous areas. Of the 11 ethnic minorities for which regional autonomy is not implemented because their populations and habitats are relatively small, nine have set up autonomous townships.
In accordance with the Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy, the organs of self-government of ethnic autonomous areas are the people's congresses and people's governments of autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties. In addition to exercising the functions and powers of local state organs at the corresponding level, they also exercise the power of autonomy. First, independently managing the internal affairs of their ethnic groups in their autonomous areas. Among the chairpersons or vice-chairpersons 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 chairperson of an autonomous region, the prefect of an autonomous prefecture and the head of an autonomous county are all citizens of the ethnic group or groups exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned. In the working departments of the self-government organs in these autonomous areas, a rational proportion of officials from the ethnic group or groups exercising regional autonomy as well as members of other minorities living in the area concerned are appointed in accordance with the law. At present, minority officials total more than 2.9 million nationwide. Second, having the power to formulate regulations on the exercise of autonomy and separate regulations. By the end of 2004, the ethnic autonomous areas had formulated 133 regulations on the exercise of autonomy and 418 separate regulations, all of which are still effective now. In the light of the particular situation in each area, they had made 68 flexible alterations or supplementary regulations to such laws as the Marriage Law, the Law of Succession, the Election Law, the Law on Land Administration and the Grassland Law. Third, using and developing their own spoken and written languages. At present, 22 ethnic minorities in China use 28 written languages of their own. In 2003, 4,787 titles of books with a total print-run of 50.34 million copies, 205 magazines with a total print-run of 7.81 million volumes, and 88 newspapers with a total print-run of 131.3 million copies were published in the languages of ethnic minorities. Now available are coded character sets, national standards for fonts and keyboards in the Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Korean and Yi languages, software in these languages can be run using the Windows system, and laser photo-typesetting in these languages has been realized. Fourth, respecting and protecting the freedom of religious belief of ethnic minorities. By the end of 2004, Tibetan Buddhist sites numbered more than 1,700 in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with 46,000 resident monks and nuns, and mosques numbered 23,900 in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with 27,000 clerical personnel. In addition, regional autonomous areas have the right to preserve or reform their own folk ways and customs, independently arrange, manage and develop the economic construction of the locality concerned, independently manage local revenues, and independently develop undertakings of education, science and technology, culture and sports.
The state assists ethnic autonomous areas to accelerate their economic and social development through various measures. Primarily they are: giving strategic prominence to speeding up the development of ethnic autonomous areas, giving priority to, and rationally allocating, infrastructure construction projects in these areas, strengthening financial input and support to these areas, attaching importance to ecological and environmental protection in these areas, adopting special measures to help these areas develop education, science and technology, augmenting assistance to impoverished habitats of ethnic minorities, expediting input into the social undertakings in these areas, helping them open wider to the outside world, pairing them up with more-developed areas for support, and attending to the special needs of ethnic minorities in their life and work. From 2000, when the grand strategy for development of western China was adopted, to the end of 2004, 60 key projects, involving transportation, energy, education, public health and environmental protection, had been launched in succession, with a total investment of over 850 billion yuan. All the five autonomous regions, 27 autonomous prefectures, and 83 of the 120 autonomous counties are covered in the strategy. Assisting the ethnic minority areas to accelerate their development has been listed as a major task in the state's "Seven-Year Program for Delivering 80 Million People from Poverty" and "Outline for Poverty Alleviation and Development in China's Rural Areas," as well as in the pairing-off assistance between the more-developed east coast and the western regions, the "National Project of Compulsory Education in Poor Areas," the "Food and Clothing Fund for Impoverished Ethnic Minority Areas," the "National Natural Forest Protection Project" and the "Broadcast and TV to Every Village Project." The state has made special arrangements for the development of Tibet. From 1994 to 2001, 30 projects were constructed there, with 3.9 billion yuan in total investment directly from the central government. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005), the central government has invested 31.2 billion yuan in Tibet to construct 117 projects.
With the energetic assistance and support from the state and the more-developed areas, the ethnic autonomous areas have fully exploited their own advantages and maintained a sound situation featured by economic growth, political stability, social progress and harmony between ethnic groups. From 1994 to 2003, the GDP of the ethnic autonomous areas grew by an annual average of 9.87 percent, which was nearly one percentage point higher than the national average. In 1994, the percapita GDP of these areas was equivalent to 63.5 percent of the national per-capita figure; in 2003, it rose to 66.5 percent. Also in 2003, the local revenue of the ethnic autonomous areas reached 67.4 billion yuan, 3.3 times that of 1994. In the same year, the per-capita GDP in Tibet was 6,871 yuan, equivalent to 75.5 percent of the national per-capita average; and the per-capita GDP in Xinjiang was 9,700 yuan, equivalent to 106.6 percent of the national per-capita average.
The successful implementation of the system of regional autonomy for ethnic minorities has enabled the ethnic minorities to manage their own affairs in accordance with the law and participate in the democratic management of state and social affairs. It has also ensured that all ethnic groups in China, whether their populations are big or small, enjoy equal economic, political, social and cultural rights and work together to safeguard national unity and national solidarity and fight against any attempt to split the country and destroy national solidarity, thus form among them harmonious relations characterized by mutual support, mutual help, striving in unison and common prosperity.