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Regional Autonomy for Minority
  •    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 People’s 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 effected through the people’s congress and people’s 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 area’s 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.
    Fifty-six Ethnic Groups

    China is a united multi-ethnic nation of 56 ethnic groups. According to the fourth national census, taken in 1990, the Han people made up 91.96 percent of the country’s total population, and the other 55 ethnic groups, 8.04 percent. As the majority of the population is of the Han ethnic group, China’s other ethnic groups are customarily referred to as the national minorities.

    The Han people can be found throughout the country, though mainly on the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Pearl River valleys, and the Northeast Plain. The national minorities, though fewer in number, are also scattered over a vast area (see the attached table, and can be found in approximately 64.3 percent of China, mainly distributed in the border regions from  northeast China to north, northwest and southwest China. Yunnan Province, home to more than 20 ethnic groups, has the greatest diversity of minority peoples in China. In most of China’s cities and county towns, two or more ethnic groups live together. Taking shape over China’s long history, this circumstance of different ethnic groups “living together in one area while still living in individual compact communities in special areas” continues to provide the practical basis for political, economic and cultural intercourse between the Han and the various minority peoples, and for the functioning of the autonomous national minority areas system.
    China's Ethnic Minority Population and Distribution     
    (Date of the Fourth National Census, July 1, 1990)
    Ethnic Group Population(100,000) Major Areas of Distribution
    Mongol 48.024  Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Qinghai
    Hui  86.120  Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, Hebei, Qinghai, Shandong, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Anhui, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Shaanxi, Beijing, Tianjin 
    Tibetan  45.931 Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Yunnan 
    Uygur  72.070 Xinjiang
    Miao 73.836 Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hainan, Hubei
    Yi 65.785  Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi 
    Zhuang 155.558  Guangxi, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou 
    Bouyei  25.483 Guizhou 
    Korean  19.234 Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang
    Manchu  98.468 Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Beijing, Inner Mongolia
    Dong 25.086 Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi 
    Yao 21.370  Guangxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou 
    Bai 15.981 Yunnan, Guizhou 
    Tujia  57.250 Hunan, Hubei
    Hani 12.548 Yunnan
    Kazak  11.108 Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai
    Dai 10.254 Yunnan
    Li 11.125 Hainan
    Lisu  5.746 Yunnan, Sichuan
    Va  3.520 Yunnan
    She 6.347 Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Guangdong
    Gaoshan  0.029 Taiwan, Fujian 
    Lahu  4.115 Yunnan
    Shui 3.471 Guizhou, Guangxi 
    Dongxiang  3.737 Gansu, Xinjiang
    Naxi  2.778 Yunnan, Sichuan
    Jingpo  1.193 Yunnan
    Kirgiz  1.435 Xinjiang, Heilongjiang
    Tu  1.926 Qinghai, Gansu
    Daur  1.215 Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang
    Mulam 1.606 Guangxi 
    Qiang  1.983  Sichuan
    Blang  0.824  Yunnan
    Salar 0.875 Qinghai, Gansu
    Maonan 0.724 Guangxi 
    Gelo  4.382  Guizhou, Guangxi
    Xibe  1.729 Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin
    Achang  0.277 Yunnan 
    Pumi  0.297 Yunnan 
    Tajik  0.332  Xinjiang 
    Nu 0.272  Yunnan
    Ozbek  0.148 Xinjiang
    Russian 0.135 Xinjiang
    Ewenki  0.264 Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang 
    Deang 0.155  Yunnan
    Bonan  0.117  Gansu 
    Yugur  0.123 Gansu
    Jing 0.187  Guangxi
    Tatar 0.051  Xinjiang 
    Drung  0.058  Yunnan 
    Oroqen  0.070 Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang
    Hezhen 0.043  Heilongjiang
    Moinba  0.075 Tibet 
    Lhoba  0.023 Tibet 
    Jino 0.180 Yunnan