Successes of the CPC’s Ethnic Initiatives over the Past 90 Years

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-12-28 19:12
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State Ethnic Affairs Commission of the People’s Republic of China

 China is a unified but ethnically diverse nation. Ethnic issues have always had a major influence on the long-term peace and stability of the country and the wellbeing of the people. Ever since its founding 90 years ago, the CPC has committed itself to applying the basic principles of Marxism to the actual conditions in China. Maintaining this approach throughout the course of China’s revolution, development, and reform, it has successfully developed a unique way of resolving ethnic issues in China, and gained a wealth of valuable experience in the process.

 I. Maintaining the core role of the CPC is fundamental to the success of our ethnic initiatives  

 The CPC assumes the central role in all of China’s ethnic initiatives, a position granted to it by both history and the people. Over the past 90 years, the CPC has done a great deal to exert this role. It united people of all ethnic groups to form the broadest possible national united front against Japanese aggression, leading to China’s first total victory against foreign aggression in modern times; it led the people of all ethnic groups in founding the People’s Republic of China, realizing great national unity and unprecedented solidarity among all of China’s ethnic groups; and it led all of China’s ethnic groups onto the path of socialism, bringing about the most extensive and profound social changes ever to occur in Chinese history. Owing to the leadership of the CPC in the 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, sweeping changes have taken place in China’s ethnic minority groups, ethnic minority areas, and ethnic relations. History has demonstrated that only the CPC was able to lead the people of all ethnic groups to liberation and wellbeing, and that only the CPC is capable of leading the people towards the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. 

 July 29, 2011, students from different ethnic groups gathering around a map of China laid out on a playing field at the South-Central University for Nationalities in Wuhan. The students pieced the map together to convey their best wishes to the country. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Xiao Yijiu

 Over the past 90 years, the CPC has led China’s overall ethnic initiatives in three aspects. The first aspect is political leadership. Through the correct formulation of major principles and policies, the Party oversees people’s congresses, governments, and organizations of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at all levels in implementing policies on ethnic issues and carrying out ethnic initiatives. The second aspect is ideological leadership. The Party has always equipped Party members and educated the people with scientific theories. It has integrated core socialist values with the traditional cultural heritage of all ethnic groups in an effort to promote the common ideals of socialism with Chinese characteristics and create a source of inspiration for the entire Chinese nation. The third aspect is organizational leadership. The important role of Party organizations as leading cores, pioneers, role-models, and backbones in ethnic initiatives has been fully exerted. On this basis, we have trained a great deal of cadres from ethnic minority groups, who play a key role in inspiring the general public to devote themselves to the country’s revolution, development, and the reform and opening up drive. These efforts have ensured the effective implementation of the Party’s lines, principles, and policies.

 Over the past 90 years, and especially since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, we have devoted efforts to the creation and development of a leadership framework and a set of working mechanisms for our ethnic initiatives around the whole country. On this basis, we have been able to develop a highly cohesive approach to our ethnic initiatives in which Party committees play a coordinating role and various departments, each with their own duties, act together in close coordination.   

 II. Solving ethnic issues in our own unique way is our fundamental approach to ethnic initiatives   

 Over the past 90 years, the tireless efforts of the CPC have allowed it to develop a unique approach to ethnic issues in China. This approach involves holding high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the CPC; focusing on development as the fundamental means of solving ethnic issues; and adhering to the principles of equality, unity, mutual assistance, and harmony, so as to promote unity and common prosperity among all ethnic groups. This unique approach embodies the basic aspirations of all ethnic groups for equality and development, and demonstrates the enormous superiorities of socialism. It is capable of inspiring people of all ethnic backgrounds to devote themselves to China’s reform, opening up, and modernization. Therefore, it is an approach that will help to make the country rich and powerful, enable the Chinese nation to thrive, and allow the people to prosper and be happy.

 By committing ourselves to solving ethnic issues in our own unique way, we have been able to captivate the world with our incredible achievements in ethnic solidarity and progress. With the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the people of all ethnic groups were led onto the path of socialism as China set out to initiate democratic reform and socialist transformation. Following years of efforts to identify ethnic groups, it was concluded that there were 55 ethnic minority groups in China. These groups have since taken to the political stage, sharing equal status with the Han group. As the masters of the country, all of China’s ethnic groups have equal rights in political, economic and cultural terms, as well as in all other aspects. China also implemented a system of regional ethnic autonomy after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which allows various ethnic minority groups to assume charge of their own internal affairs under the unified leadership of the central government. Since the institution of reform and opening up policies, China’s ethnic minority areas have witnessed sweeping changes and unprecedented development. During the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), the GDP and fiscal revenue of China’s ethnic minority areas continued to maintain two-figure growth, exceeding the national average. Such robust growth helped to significantly boost the economic strength of these regions. At the same time, considerable development was also seen in culture, education, public health, and other social programs. Attendance in nine-year compulsory education and literacy among young people reached 98.5%, while access to the new rural cooperative medical care system and a basic living allowance system became universal. Ideological and moral standards, scientific knowledge, cultural attainment, and overall levels of health among people of all ethnic groups were also improved significantly. Interactions and exchanges between the various ethnic groups were deepened, and our socialist ethnic relations, which are characterized by equality, solidarity, mutual assistance, and harmony, were further consolidated.   

 III. The development of theories and policies represents an action guide for our ethnic initiatives  

 The Party’s theories and policies on ethnic issues were created by integrating the basic principles of Marxism with the ethnic realities of China. The first generation of the Party’s central collective leadership, with Mao Zedong at its core, defined a set of theories and policies on ethnic issues which were based around the principles of equality, unity, autonomy, and the common prosperity of all ethnic groups. The second generation of the Party’s central collective leadership, with Deng Xiaoping at its core, stressed that development was the key to the resolution of ethnic issues, and shifted the focus of the Party’s ethnic initiatives to promoting economic development. The third generation of the Party’s central collective leadership, with Jiang Zemin at its core, made a series of major decisions in regard to ethnic initiatives, such as promoting the large-scale development of China’s western regions and providing Tibet with assistance from around the whole country. Since the Sixteenth National Party Congress, the CPC Central Committee, with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary, has focused on the historical task of developing a moderately prosperous society in all respects. On this basis, it has clearly pointed out that all ethnic groups should work together for common prosperity and development, and that the fundamental task of the Party’s ethnic initiatives must be to promote ethnic solidarity and progress among all ethnic groups. This represents a deeper understanding of the nature of China’s ethnic issues during the primary stage of socialism; it has enriched our theories and policies on ethnic issues, and defined the direction that our ethnic initiatives will follow under the current situation.

 The Party’s theories on ethnic issues represent the action guide for our ethnic initiatives, while ethnic policies represent the lifeline. Over the past 90 years, and especially in the 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the people of all ethnic groups in China, led forward by the theories and policies of the Party on ethnic issues, have done a great deal to promote the prosperity and strength of the country and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. History has demonstrated that our approach to solving ethnic issues has been a successful one, and that the Party’s theories and policies on ethnic issues are totally correct. For our ethnic initiatives to be successful, we must continue to base our efforts around the Party’s theories on ethnic issues, and commit ourselves to the full implementation of the Party’s ethnic policies.  

 IV. The system of regional ethnic autonomy is the institutional foundation for the success of our ethnic initiatives    

 The Party engaged in long-term trials and repeated comparisons before it established the system of regional ethnic autonomy. In 1947, Inner Mongolia became China’s first ethnic autonomous region at the provincial level. Shortly before the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the CPPCC adopted the Common Programme which officially confirmed that China would implement a system of regional ethnic autonomy. Since then, the Party has further improved this system by refining the theories, policies, institutions, and laws on which it is founded.

 This system is faithful to history and suited to the actual conditions in China. For this reason, the Party’s decision to implement regional ethnic autonomy was a correct one. At present, there are 155 autonomous localities in China, including 5 ethnic autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures, and 120 autonomous counties (banners). Representing a balance between ethnic and regional factors, economic and political factors, historical and current conditions, and institutional and legal factors, regional ethnic autonomy ensures that all ethnic groups are able to fully enjoy their autonomous rights. Fact has demonstrated that regional ethnic autonomy not only conforms to conditions in China, but also represents the fundamental interests of all ethnic groups. It is a great undertaking of unprecedented proportions that is supported sincerely by people of all ethnic groups.  

 V. Balancing major relationships in ethnic initiatives serves as a fundamental means of resolving ethnic issues  

 The Party has always paid close attention to balancing major relationships in its ethnic initiatives, which it does by engaging in overall planning and affording due consideration to all aspects concerned. First, the Party strives to balance the relationship between China’s overall situation and its ethnic initiatives. The Party believes that ethnic initiatives have a major bearing on the cause of the Party and the people. On this basis, it adheres to the principle that ethnic initiatives should be closely tied to China’s central tasks and serve its overall interests. Second, the Party strives to balance the relationship between general issues and particular issues. In addition to general policies, the Party has also formulated dedicated plans that take local circumstances into account. Plans have been formulated and implemented to support the development of smaller ethnic groups, bring prosperity to border areas, and promote ethnic minority initiatives. Preferential policies have also been enacted concerning ethnic trade and the production of special supplies required by ethnic groups. Third, the Party strives to balance the relationship between economic development and unity and stability. The Party views development as the key to resolving ethnic issues, and unity and stability as a necessary prerequisite for rapid development. On this basis, it gives the same level of emphasis to economic development and the improvement of people’s wellbeing in ethnic minority areas as it does to ethnic solidarity and stability, giving due consideration to economic and political concerns. Fourth, the Party strives to balance the relationship between the immediate interests of the people of all ethnic groups and the highest interests of the state. We must cater to the immediate interests of all ethnic groups by ensuring political equality, improving public wellbeing, and promoting the prosperity of ethnic cultures. Meanwhile, we also need to ensure that people of all ethnic groups are committed to maintaining the unity of the motherland and ethnic solidarity, which are the highest interests of the Chinese nation.  

 VI. Cadres and ordinary people from ethnic minority groups are a source of strength for our initiatives 

 Fundamentally speaking, our ethnic initiatives are targeted towards the people, and particularly towards ordinary people and cadres from ethnic minority groups. During the course of China’s revolution, development, and reform over the past 90 years, the Party has always depended on cadres and ordinary people from ethnic minority groups as a means of realizing its principles, targets and missions. We relied on the support of cadres and ordinary people from all ethnic backgrounds as we led all ethnic groups onto the path of socialism; we relied on them as we launched reform, opening up, and modernization initiatives in ethnic minority areas; and we will continue to rely on them as we strive to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, achieve leapfrog development, and create enduring political stability in ethnic minority areas. We know that depending on cadres and ordinary people from ethnic minority groups and giving full play to their roles will ensure the success of our ethnic initiatives.

 The people of all ethnic groups are the source of our wisdom and our strength. We must take them into account in our every effort. In our efforts to promote ethnic solidarity and progress, we must maintain close ties with the people and give full play to their enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity. Since the institution of reform and opening up policies, the central government has held five national conferences to commend people who have made outstanding contributions to ethnic solidarity and progress. As a result, people of all ethnic groups have become much more active in promoting ethnic solidarity and progress.

 Cadres from minority groups serve as bridges that link the Party and the government to the people of various ethnic minority groups. They also represent the major force behind our reform, opening up, and modernization efforts in ethnic minority areas. Therefore, it is essential that we devote major efforts to the selection and training of cadres from ethnic minority backgrounds. The Party has attached great importance to strengthening its contingent of cadres from ethnic minority groups, viewing this as a foundation initiative that will bring about long-term benefits. The number of cadres from ethnic minority groups has increased from 40,000 when the People’s Republic of China was founded to nearly three million at present.

 The past 90 years have witnessed a magnificent upsurge in China’s ethnic initiatives, leaving us with a wealth of valuable experiences. The most important thing we have learned is that we must, under the leadership of the Party, solve ethnic issues in our own unique way and in line with our own conditions.


 (Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.12, 2011)

Related readings:

 State Ethnic Affairs Commission of the People’s Republic of China

 The State Ethnic Affairs Commission of the People’s Republic of China was one of the first ministries and commissions established under the State Council. Its main duties include:

 To implement principles and policies of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on ethnic issues; to organize studies on ethnic theories, ethnic policies and major issues in regard to ethnic initiatives; and to propose policy suggestions for ethnic initiatives.

 To coordinate and urge related departments to perform their duties in regard to ethnic initiatives; to promote the implementation of ethnic policies in fields pertaining to economic and social development, and to ensure coordination between such polices; and to guide the ethnic initiatives of government departments.

 To draft out laws, regulations, and policy decisions on ethnic issues, and to supervise their implementation; to safeguard the legal rights and interests of ethnic minority groups; to maintain contact with ethnic autonomous localities; and to coordinate and direct the implementation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Regional National Autonomy.

 To propose suggestions on the coordination of ethnic relations; to solve major issues related to ethnic relations; and to participate in the coordination of social stability in ethnic areas in order to promote ethnic solidarity, common prosperity and development, and national unity.

 To draw up special plans for ethnic minority initiatives and supervise their implementation; to participate in the formulation of plans for economic and social development among ethnic minority groups and in ethnic areas; to promote the setup and improvement of a comprehensive assessment and monitoring system for the progression of ethnic initiatives; and to promote the application of IT in ethnic service systems and the management of ethnic issues.

 To study and analyze issues regarding economic development and social programs among ethnic minority groups and areas, and offer suggestions for special policies; to coordinate and work with the departments concerned in the resolution of related issues; and to participate in the coordination of schemes regarding scientific and technological development, point-to-point aid, and economic and technological cooperation in ethnic areas.

 To organize and coordinate publicity and education initiatives in regard to policies, rules, and regulations on ethnic issues as well as basic knowledge regarding ethnic groups; to organize activities to commend people who have made outstanding contributions to ethnic solidarity and progress on behalf of the State Council; to organize major celebratory activities for ethnic autonomous localities; to administrate efforts related to ethnic languages; to oversee the translation and publishing of materials in ethnic languages; and to oversee the collection, compilation, and publishing of ancient books originating from ethnic minority groups.

 To organize and coordinate exchanges and cooperation with foreign countries and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in the field of ethnic initiatives; and to participate in overseas publicity related to ethnic issues.

 To participate in the formulation of plans for the training and development of personnel from ethnic minorities; to maintain contact with cadres from ethnic minorities; and to assist the related departments in their efforts to train, educate, and use ethnic cadres.

 To undertake other duties assigned by the State Council.

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