Regional autonomy for minority peoples
Equality, unity, mutual help and common prosperity are the basic principles of the Chinese government in handling the relations between ethnic groups. The Constitution of the PRC specifies that all ethnic groups are equal. The state guarantees the lawful rights and interests of the minority peoples. Discrimination against or oppression of any ethnic group is prohibited; all acts that undermine the unity of the ethnic groups or create splittism among them are forbidden. Big-ethnic group chauvinism, mainly Han-chauvinism, or chauvinism on a local level, is banned. Every ethnic group has the freedom to use its own spoken and written languages, and to retain or change its customs.
In accordance with these basic policies, China practices a system whereby national minorities exercise regional autonomy. Where national minorities live in compact communities autonomous organs of self-government are established under the unified leadership of the Central Government. The minority people shall exercise autonomous rights, be masters in their own areas and administer the internal affairs of their ethnic group. The National Minority Regional Autonomy Law adopted in 1984 by the Second Session of the Sixth National Peoples Congress provides specific guidelines for guaranteeing that the constitutionally decreed national minority regional autonomy system is carried out. In addition to five autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, founded on May 1, 1947; Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, founded on October 1, 1955; Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, founded on March 5, 1958; Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, founded on October 25, 1958; and Tibet Autonomous Region, founded on September 9, 1965), China currently has 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (or, in some cases, banners), in addition to more than 1,300 ethnic townships. Self-government in autonomous national minority areas is affected through the peoples congress and peoples government at the particular local level. The chairperson or vice-chairperson of the standing committee of the people’s congress and the head of the government of an autonomous region, autonomous prefecture or autonomous county should be from the areas designated minority people. Organs of self-government in regional autonomous areas enjoy extensive self-government rights beyond those held by other state organs at the same level. These include enacting regulations on autonomy and special regulations corresponding to local political, economic and cultural conditions, having independent control of the local revenue, and independently arranging and managing construction, education, science, culture, public health and other local undertakings. The Central Government has greatly assisted in the training of minority cadres and technicians through the establishment of national minority universities (colleges) and national minority cadre schools to supplement regular colleges and universities. It has, in addition, supplied the national minority autonomous areas with large quantities of financial aid and material resources in order to promote their economic and cultural development.