Official: China has no racial discrimination

Updated: 2007-03-29 19:56

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," said Dainzhub.

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 school.

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 development.

"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 total population.

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