Regional Ethnic Autonomy System

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Equality, unity, mutual help and common prosperity are the basic principles of the Chinese government in handling the relations between ethnic groups (http://english.people.com.cn/data/minorities/ethnic_minorities.html) (http://english.gov.cn/2006-02/08/content_182626.htm). In accordance with these basic principles, China practices a regional ethnic autonomy system (http://www.china.org.cn/features/political/2002-03/19/content_1026319.htm). Where minorities live in compact communities, organs of self-government are established under the unified leadership of the state. Minority peoples exercise autonomous rights, are masters in their own areas, and administer their own internal affairs. The Central Government also actively aids the ethnic autonomous areas with funds and materials, so as to promote the development of their local economies and cultures. The Law on Regional Ethinic Autonomy, adopted in 1984 at the Second Session of the Sixth NPC, is the basic law guaranteeing the implementation of the regional ethnic autonomy system (http://english.gov.cn/2006-02/08/content_182618.htm). Today, in addition to the five autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang Uygur, Guangxi Zhuang, Ningxia Hui and Tibet autonomous regions), China has 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties (banners), as well as over 1,100 ethnic townships. The organs of self-government in ethnic autonomous areas are the people’s congresses and people’s governments of autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures, and autonomous counties (banners). The chairperson or vice-chairs of the standing committee of the people’s congress and the head of an autonomous region, autonomous prefecture or autonomous county (banner) should be citizens of the community exercising regional autonomy in the area concerned.

Organs of self-government in ethnic autonomous areas enjoy extensive self-government rights beyond those held by other state organs at the same level. These include: enacting regulations on the exercise of autonomy and separate regulations corresponding to the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the ethnic group(s) in the areas concerned; having the freedom to manage and use all revenues accruing to the ethnic autonomous areas; independently arranging and managing local economic development, education, science, culture, public health and physical culture, protecting and organizing their cultural heritage, and developing and invigorating their cultures.