BEIJING -- All ethnic groups in China are equal and no racial discrimination
exists, Dainzhub Ongboin, vice director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission,
told a regular news briefing on Thursday.
"China's ethnic groups enjoy equal status and live in harmony. There is no
discrimination (directed at any ethnicity)," Dainzhub, who is of Tibetan origin,
said in response to a Reuters reporter who asked whether racial discrimination
existed in Chinese society.
China has 55 ethnic minority groups. The Han people account for more than 90
percent of the country's total population.
"People from different ethnic groups often help each other and their
relations are harmonious," he said, adding the central government was investing
more money to alleviate poverty in some ethnic minority groups.
"The 56 ethnic groups are like brothers and sisters living in one family,"
The government aims to extend nine-year compulsory education to more than 95
percent of the ethnic minority population by the end of 2010, as stated in the
country's ethnic minorities' 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010),he said.
The Plan, which was approved by the State Council, or Cabinet, earlier this
year, was made public on Thursday.
The country will "do its best to ensure the schooling of each ethnic
student", said Dainzhub, adding it is one of his prime concerns as he himself
was a poor student many years ago and understands the bitterness of poverty at
Ethnic minority medical science such as Mongolian, Uygur and Tibetan medicine
is a valuable cultural heritage and should be used more extensively in ethnic
regions, many of which are remote, said the 52-year-old, who is also a
Tibetologist and a former dean of the Tibetology department of the Central
University for Nationalities.
Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report earlier this month that
traditional Chinese and ethnic minority medicine should be made a priority for
"Ethnic medicine is one third the cost of an urban hospital and half the cost
of traditional Chinese medicine," Dainzhub said, adding that ethnic people trust
their own medicine.
Official statistics show that of the 11.7 million people living in absolute
poverty in rural areas, half live in ethnic minority regions. About 7 percent of
the ethnic minority population -- more than four times the national average --
fall under China's poverty line.
Autonomous ethnic regions in China cover more than six million square
kilometers, making up about 64 percent of the the country's land area, even
though members of the 55 ethnic minorities account for only 8.4 percent of the