BEIJING: The Chinese government Sunday published a white paper on its ethnic policy, stressing harmony and equality among all ethnic groups.
The paper, released by the State Council Information Office, reviewed the country's basic situation of ethnic issues, the government policies over the past six decades and the economic, social and cultural progress in ethnic minority regions.
It was the third white paper on China's ethnic policy after two reports were issued respectively in 1999 and 2005, said an official with the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
"Through this white paper that summed up our ethnic policy and practice, we hope the international society could have a better understanding about the reality our policy is based, about what the policy is, and the impact it has on solving ethnic issues and promoting the development of ethnic minorities in China," the official said.
In China, home to 56 ethnic groups, the Han ethnic group has the largest population while the other 55 ethnic groups are relatively small and called ethnic minorities.
In the past 60 years, the population of ethnic minorities reported continuous increase, from 6.06 percent of the total population in 1953 to 8.41 percent in 2000, said the paper.
The average life-span of 13 ethnic minority groups were longer than the national average level of 71.4 years, according to the latest national census conducted in 2000.
Facts proved the country's ethnic policy was effective, the official said. "The Chinese government will stick to it and improve it according to the changing reality."
The country's ethnic policy ensures the equality among all ethnic groups, the paper said.
They enjoy equality in personal freedom, legal rights, participation in state affairs, religious belief, use of their own languages and maintaining their own customs, said the paper, entitled China's Ethnic Policy and Common Prosperity and Development of All Ethnic Groups.
In the past six decades, China has basically established a legal system with its own characteristics to guarantee the equality of all its ethnic groups, it said.