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China will remain open to media after the Games
By Wu Jiao (China Daily Staff Writer)
Updated: 2008-08-17 07:49

China will continue to try to enhance communication with the outside world in terms of its ethnic affairs, a senior official said Saturday.

"I hope more reporters and media come to China and cover those areas populated by minority groups after the Games," Wu Shimin, deputy director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC), said.

"China has already opened its doors, and will never shut them," he said at a news conference at the Beijing International Media Center.

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He was responding to a reporter from the United States who asked if China would consider trying to lead on media discourse after the Games following some biased reports on ethnic policies in the Western media.

"We need not struggle for the power of discourse, but we always base our reports on facts and truth," Wu claimed.

Wu said he could not understand why overseas media "play up" violent incidents in ethnic minority regions, yet ignore the fact that ethnic minorities in China now live much better lives than they did a few decades ago.

Many ethnic minority regions, like Tibet, are less developed than other parts of China because they are in remote areas, he said.

The fact that China's opening up began in the eastern part of the country is another reason for the development gap, he said.

But minority groups have "many fixed and smooth" channels through which to voice their concerns to the central government, he claimed.

These include the visits made by officials from Beijing, where the minority groups have a preferential ratio of representatives in terms of their total population, he said.

In China there are five provincial-level autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties for ethnic minorities, which encompass 70 percent of their more than 100 million population.

A slew of riots and violence took place in the country's ethnic regions, in particular Tibet and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions in recent months.

The March 14 riots in Lhasa cost the region about 280 million yuan ($40 million) and sparked an economic slowdown.

More recently, bombings in Xinjiang, allegedly the work of terrorist groups, have led to the deaths of more than 20 people.

"Terrorism goes against the common interests of the people of all ethnic groups in China," said Mao Gongning, director of the policy and law department of the SEAC, at the press conference.

"It is a crime conducted by only a small group of people, and is not due to ethnic or religious problems," he said.

"Curbing terrorism in accordance with the law will help us to win support from all ethnic groups and enhance unity."

The government is determined to crack down on terrorism but the measures it uses will not damage its relationship with ethnic groups, Mao said.

"Relations among ethnic groups are moving in a favorable direction thanks to economic growth and the efforts of the government."