GENEVA — China’s mid-term assessment of the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan (2016-2020) is ongoing, and generally speaking, good progress has been made in achieving the goals set concerning the ethnic minorities, a Chinese official said on Aug 13.
Xu Hong, Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Law of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the remarks during a dialogue with UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which is reviewing China’s report on implementation of the related Convention.
He told CERD members that the right of China’s ethnic minorities to participate in the deliberation and administration of state affairs has been earnestly ensured.
Currently, he said, all the 55 ethnic minority groups in China are fully represented at the National People’s Congress, or the national legislature of China, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top political advisory body.
The head of administration of China’s 155 ethnic autonomous localities, including prefectures, counties and banners, are led by officials from ethnic minorities, he added.
According to the official, ethnic minorities and areas inhabited by ethnic groups have witnessed rapid economic and social development. In 2017, the eight multi-ethnic regions or provinces saw their investment in fixed assets grow by 11.8 percent, 4.6 percentage points higher than the national average.
Poor population in ethnic minority areas has dropped from 14.11 million in 2016 to 10.32 million in 2017, and 21 out of the 28 poor counties that have successfully eradicated poverty in that year are located in the western and ethnic minority areas, Xu said.
Also education for ethnic minorities has developed rapidly, since China has exempted rural students from all tuitions and fees for compulsory education, provided students from financially difficult families with free textbooks and students of boarding schools with living allowances and increased the public funding for primary and secondary schools providing compulsory education in rural areas.
Ethnic minorities’ right to use and develop their own languages has been effectively protected, Xu said, adding that so far, 14 ethnic minority projects have been put on the UNESCO’s “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, and 479 ethnic minority works have been put on the catalogue of national intangible cultural heritages.
CERD is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented.