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White Paper: Protected Rights for Chinese Citizens by Victoria Cole, June 24, 2015 Adjust font size:

The Chinese government released a white paper on June 8th, entitled "Progress in China's Human Rights in 2014", highlighting the progress of human rights protection in the legal system as well as economic and social development.

“Rights of Ethnic Minorities”

The white paper stated that in 2014 "ethnic minorities' civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights were further guaranteed", including "local legislative power, flexibility in the execution of relevant state laws and regulations based on the characteristics of each ethnic minority, the right to use their own spoken and written languages, power of personnel and financial management, and the right of independently developing their own culture and education."

The white paper dove into specific economic data of ethnic minorities, including lists of and percent increases of per capita disposable income, in which the urban residents of Inner Mongolia had the highest of 28,350 yuan and those of Qinghai province had the lowest of 22,307 yuan.

"The rural impoverished population decreased by 3.57 million from the previous year, with a poverty reduction rate of 13.9 percent." The central government has also appropriated billions of yuan in various projects benefiting all kinds of minority interests, including development, central budgetary investments and protection of ethnic-minority villages with cultural significances.

The white paper offered much data on the Tibet Autonomous Region for 2014, beginning with the fact that their GDP growth rate was 3.4% higher than the national average. Many improvements too have been made in aiding the quality of life. The paper mentions that "2.3 million farmers and herdsmen of 460,300 households have moved into solid and convenient houses", Lhasa's natural gas heating project has been completed allowing heat for 105,000 households, and "public medical and health service system combining Tibetan, Western and traditional Chinese medicine that covers all urban and rural areas." Additionally, "a project is being carried out to provide the "five guarantees" (food, clothing, medical care, housing and funeral expenses) to the needy and orphans in communal settings. Some 72 percent of residents entitled to the "five guarantees" are now supported." Many other measures were expanded upon including improvements in income, employment, healthcare and affordable housing.

Education has also made advancements in 2014 as the "central government provided 2.4 billion yuan in the development of regular high schools at counties inhabited by ethnic minorities and with a weak educational basis" and adopting "special measures of "preparatory classes for ethnic minorities" and "plan for high-caliber personnel of ethnic minorities" for personnel training of ethnic minorities." This has led to a 3.3% percent rise of ethnic-minority students enrolled in preparatory classes.

"Ethnic-minority areas have improved their cultural public service system", the paper reports, with "more than 50,000 cultural institutions of various types in ethnic autonomous areas." The paper highlights three of such programs, the "Cultural Volunteers Going to Border Areas" and the "Digital Cultural Corridor in Border Areas" and "Tibetan, Qiang & Yi Cultural Corridor."

When referring to the right to use and develop their own spoken and written languages, the paper stated that "the state takes concrete measures to ensure the legitimate use of ethnic-minority languages in the administrative and judicial sectors, news and publication, radio, film and television, culture and education, and other areas." In fact, the paper reports that 97% of Tibetan student receive bilingual education in compulsory education.

"China has further enhanced the preservation of intangible cultural heritage projects and their representative inheritors in ethnic-minority areas." Using several examples from Tibet, the white paper highlighted the government's use of various organizations and government bodies to ensure the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage cases, including the induction of Tibetan opera and the Gesar Epic in UNESCO's Masterpieces of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, 158 books on the State List of Valuable Ancient Books and the preservation of the Sakya Monastery, the largest and most heavily-funded Tibetan cultural relic preservation project to date.

Freedom of religious belief, a very important facet of human rights, is of no exception to ethnic minorities according to the white paper. The Chinese government even recognizes and respects sub-religions, like the Tibetan Buddhism’s tradition of Buddha reincarnation, as mentioned in the paper. The white paper went on to say, "monks and nuns in Tibet are covered by health insurance, pension insurance, basic living allowance and personal accident insurance", with free annual physical examinations. The paper also emphasized that ethnic minorities' religious classics, scriptures, traditions and related organizations are also guarded.

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