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Premier Pledges More Support to Poor Minority Areas

Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged that his government will extend further support to poor areas inhabited by ethnic minority people.

"All ethnic groups form one big family. We must be united and help each other, to prosper and make progress together," Wen told a group of Jingpo farmers during a visit to the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Wen's trip to Yunnan from March 31 to April 1 took place after he attended the third Summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion held in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Yunnan has the largest number of ethnic minority groups among all Chinese regions.

Wen told farmers in Dai, Jingpo and De'ang villages that his new cabinet has decided to increase rural spending by 25 billion yuan (US$3.5 billion).

Government shall also increase subsidies for cereal growing and farming machines as well as the minimum state purchasing prices for rice and wheat, Wen said in a Dai village, greeting local farmers in Dai language.

At the Santaishan Jingpo village, farmer Ding Kongdao told Wen that although he no longer worries about food and basic medical care, cash income is still hard to make being in such a remote mountainous village.

The Premier said villagers should be relocated to places where life is easier and that small water conservation projects should be built to water crops.

He also suggested that farmers should also grow cash crops such as coffee and banana in addition to rice and sugar cane. Local governments should also help them find jobs in cities.

In a De'ang nationality village at the foot of a mountain, Premier Wen met Yao Lateng in his new house. When he learnt that Yao married a Han girl, Wen shook hands with the couple and said, "This is unity among ethnic groups."

The village was relocated to a flat place near national highway 302 from a nearby mountain five years ago, with special government funding to help ethnic minority groups.

Wen urged local officials to make education their top priority, saying that education is the foundation for people to improve their life.

Wen also hosted a small meeting attended by a dairy farmer, a school master and a countryside doctor, among others, to solicit their opinions of government work.

(Xinhua News Agency April 3, 2008)

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