Chinese Ethnic & Minority Ethnic Groups

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Chinese Ethnic

China is a large country noted for its dense population and vast territory. There are 55 minority ethnic groups in addition to the Han who represent 93% of the population.

The defining elements of an ethnic group are language, homeland, and social values. 53 minority ethnic groups use spoken languages of their own; 23 minority ethnic groups have their own written languages.

Equality, unity and common prosperity are the fundamental objectives of the government in handling the relations between minority ethnic groups. China exercises a policy of regional autonomy for various minority ethnic groups, allowing ethnic group peoples living in compact communities to establish self-government and direct their own affairs.

Han Chinese

Han Chinese makes up 93% of the total population. According to the 1995 sample survey of 1% of China's population, there were 1.09932 billion Han people. Han people are found in all parts of the country, but mainly in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River (Huanghe), Yangtze River (Changjiang), Pearl River (Zhujiang) and the Northeast Plain.

The Han people has its own spoken and written language, known as the Chinese language, which is commonly used throughout China and is the working language of the United Nations. The Hui and Manchu minority ethnic groups also use the Han (Chinese) language.

Minority Ethnic Groups

Most of these 7% live in the vast areas of the West, Southwest and Northwest. The largest is the 12 million-strong Zhuang in southwestern China. Although minority ethnic groups account for about 7% of the population, they are distributed over some 50% of Chinese-controlled territory, mostly in border regions.

Self-government of Minority Ethnic Groups

Self-government in ethnic group autonomous areas is affected through the local people's congress and people's government at the particular level. There are currently five autonomous regions in China. They are Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region.

In addition, China also has 30 autonomous prefectures and 121 autonomous counties. The committee of the People's Congress and the head of the government of an autonomous region, autonomous prefecture or autonomous county belong to the area's designated ethnic group.

Organs of self-government in regional autonomous areas enjoy extensive self-government rights beyond those held by other state organs at the same level. These include enacting regulations for self-government and specialized regulations corresponding to local political, economic and cultural conditions; making independent use of local revenue, and independently arranging and managing construction, education, science, culture, public health and other local undertakings.

The Central Government has greatly assisted in the training of ethnic group cadres and technicians through the establishment of institutes and cadre schools for minority ethnic groups to supplement regular colleges and universities. It has, in addition, supplied the ethnic group autonomous areas with large quantities of financial aid and material resources in order to promote their economic and cultural development.

Here're the 55 minority ethnic groups: Achang, Bai, Bonan, Bouyei, Blang, Dai, Daur, Deang, Dong, Dongxiang, Dulong, Ewenki, Gaoshan, Gelao, Hani, Hezhe, Hui, Jing, Jingpo, Jinuo, Kazak, Kirgiz, Korean, Lahu, Li, Lisu, Luoba, Manchu, Maonan, Menba, Miao, Mongolian, Mulao, Naxi, Nu, Oroqen, Ozbek, Pumi, Qiang, Russian, Salar, She, Shui, Tajik, Tatar, Tibetan, Tu, Tujia, Uigur, Wa, Xibe, Yao, Yi, Yugur, Zhuang.