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Hu calls for common prosperity of ethnic groups
By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-27 22:42

President Hu Jintao called the country's 56 ethnic groups to unite and strive for common prosperity yesterday.

Hu made the remarks at the opening session of the two-day Central Conference on Ethnic Affairs in Beijing, which is expected to boost the economic and social progress in regions inhabited by ethnic minorities, mainly in frontier and remote areas.

Official statistics show that more than 13 million people living in these areas still do not have enough food and clothing.

"Wisdom and forces of all ethnic groups in China should be mobilized to build a well-off society," said Hu, referring to the long-term target put forth by central authorities characterized by a materially and socially well-off society.

Almost all senior Chinese officials -- including Premier Wen Jiabao, chairman of the political advisory body Jia Qinglin and Vice-President Zeng Qinghong -- all attended the conference.

Hu urged officials to "enhance their sense of responsibility and obligation" to do well the work related to ethnic affairs.

China has 56 ethnic groups, with Han as the largest one. The total population of Han accounts for 93.3 per cent of the country's 1.3 billion people.

To boost the economic and social development in ethnic minority-inhabited areas, Hu said all levels of government must increase input in these regions as well as train more people.

He said that the central authorities will continue to crack down on ethnic separatism and safeguard national unification.

According to statistics of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the central and local governments poured more than 16 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion) last year in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities.

The poverty alleviation work in eight provinces and autonomous regions -- Inner Mongolia, Guangxi Zhuang, Tibet, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Guizhou and Qinghai -- have benefited a lot from the increased investment.

Yan Zai, head of the Ximeng Ethnic Wa Autonomous County in Yunnan Province in Southwest China, said that financial aid is very important to ethnic minorities, especially for infrastructure construction and education.

He said that Hu's remarks will become a guideline for the future work of ethnic affairs.

"Under the current situation, the work of helping ethnic minority people out of poverty has become a political issue rather than a economic issue," said Yan, one of 418 conference delegates.

The increasing gap between the rich in coastal areas and the poor in minority-inhabited areas will obviously force the country to realize the goal of building a well-off as well as harmonious society, he noted.

The population of Yan's county, which neighbours Myanmar, is 80,000, and the majority of the people live below the poverty line.

He said that Hu's emphasis on training has impressed him because the lack of talent has become a major bottleneck in local development.

The State Council also gave awards to 642 units and 676 individuals yesterday for their contributions to increasing unity among ethnic groups.

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