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General Introduction

General Introduction

1) 55 ethnic minority groups in China

There are 56 nationalities in China. According to the demographic survey in year 2005, Han, the most populous nationality, has 1182.95 million people which accounts for 90.56% of the total population of China. The other 55 ethnic groups, having population of 123.33 million that makes up 9.44% of the total, are called ethnic minorities because of relatively smaller population.

A minority group member is an individual who is a Chinese citizen and belongs to one of the following 55 ethnic minority groups: Zhuang, Manchu, Mongolian, Hui, Tibetan, Uygur, Miao, Yi, Bouyei, Korean, Dong, Yao, Bai, Tujia, Hani, Kazak, Dai, Li, Lisu, Va, Lahu, Shui, Dongxiang, Naxi, Jingpo, Kirgiz, Tu, Daur, Mulao, Qiang, Salar, Maonan, Gelo, Xibe, Gaoshan, Blang, Achang, Pumi, Tajik, Nu, Uzbek, Russian, Ewenki, De’ang, Bonan, Yugur, Jing, Jino, Tatar, Dulong, Oroquen, Hezhe, Lhoba, Moinba, She.

2) Long history with splendid cultures and achievements

Every ethnic group developed its own long history and splendid culture. Since remote times, each of these ethnic groups has made their own invaluable contributions to the history and culture of China. In the course of development, ethnic artists and scientists created a wealth of beautiful poems, myths, legends, music, dances, paintings, as well as scientific achievements in mathematics, astronomical calendar, agriculture and medicine, etc.

3) Fast growing minority populations

Compared with the fifth census in year 2000, Han population has increased 2.03%, and ethnic minorities 15.88% that accounts for about 42% of the total newborn between year 2000 and 2005 in China. It is forecasted that if the population of ethnic minorities keeps on growing at this rate, by year 2015 it will likely exceed 50% of the Chinese population between 1 and 14 years old. The rapidly growing minority population leads to a huge increasing marketplace in the following 20 years and an even stronger growing trend in longer term.

4) The policies for the regional autonomy of the ethnic groups

The system of the regional autonomy of the ethnic groups is a fundamental system of the People’s Republic of China and the policies for the regional autonomy of the ethnic groups are the basic policies for the solution of the ethnic issue in China.

The regional autonomy of the ethnic groups means that the autonomy of the ethnic groups, under unified state leadership, is practiced in the areas where the ethnic groups inhabit in compact communities and set up the autonomous administrations for the exercise of the power of autonomy. Up to now, a total of 155 autonomous areas, including 5 autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (banners) had been established in the whole country. Among the 55 ethnic minority groups, 44 of them have been autonomous, the population of which has covered 75% of the whole population of all the ethnic minorities. In addition 1200 townships of ethnic groups have been established in all parts of China, as a supplementary form to the regional autonomy of the ethnic groups.

According to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, and the law of the People’s Republic of China on the Regional Autonomy of the ethnic groups, the chairman and vice-chairman of the standing committee of the people’s congress of an autonomous area shall be the citizen of the ethnic group exercising the autonomy in the area. The chairman of an autonomous region, the prefect of an autonomous prefecture or the head of an autonomous county shall be a citizen of the ethnic group exercising national autonomy in the area concerned. Other posts in the people’s government of an autonomous region, an autonomous prefecture or an autonomous county should be distributed to the people of the ethnic group exercising the autonomy in the area concerned.

The autonomous administration of the government in the autonomous area shall exercise the functions and powers of the local government of the state as specified in the Constitution and exercise the powers of autonomy within the limits of their authority as prescribed by the Constitution, such as the power to enact the regulations of the autonomy and separate regulations in the light of the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the ethnic groups in the areas concerned; either to alter or cease implementing the decisions, orders or instructions issued by the higher governmental administration. The autonomous administrations of the government in the autonomous areas also have the power of autonomy in the administration of the development of economy and education, finance, culture, science and technology, in the application of languages and written scripts, and in the training and appointing of ethnic officers.

The state shall provide finance, technology, investment, and tax revenue and educational support to the autonomous areas to accelerate their economic and cultural development.