Progress in the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic Minorities in Contemporary China Between 1991 and 2014
September 28,2016   By:chinahumanrights.org
WANG Minxuan, (photo: Zhao Yifan)

Progress in the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic Minorities in Contemporary China Between 1991 and 2014
WANG Minxuan

Assistant of Southwest University of Political Science and Law 
Abstract: Protecting the rights of ethnic minorities of the country has always been a major topic in China’s white papers on human rights. This paper, on the basis of an analysis of the 15 human rights white papers released by the Information Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, between 1991 and 214, reviewed the progress made by China in safeguarding the rights of its minority ethnic groups during that period, elaborated on the fact that the protection of minority rights consists of three levels, namely undifferentiated equal protection, special protection and legitimate differentiated protection. It went on to point out that during the 23-year period, China unswervingly upheld the equality principle in protecting minority rights, and ensured that such protection is universal and covers civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights; in addition, China implemented a number of policies to actively offer special or targeted protection for minority rights, with a view to thoroughly meeting the diversified needs and demand of its citizens. Judging by China’s records of protecting minority rights, it can be seen that China followed the equality principle and placed special emphasis on special or targeted protection on the basis of universal protection. Arguably, such a approach not only suits China’s actual conditions, but also in line with China's bid to comprehensively advance governance on the basis of the rule of law, which is in China’s fundamental interest. On a higher level, this approach to minority rights protection is intended to achieve equity and equality throughout society and in turn achieve the goal of turning China into a society of diversity. The Chinese government views protecting minority rights as one of its political obligations. Arrangements for the protection of minority rights are mainly made in the form of government policies; further, within the framework of laws, the Chinese government is also working to bring rights protection in line with the rule of law. Such a combination of policies, which are more flexible in nature, and laws, which are more stable in nature, ensures timely and comprehensive protection of rights. However, it is obvious that although law offers strong protection of rights, not all rights have been turned into statutory rights, leaving certain gaps in rights protection. In view of this, policies, which are more responsive, are needed to fill such gaps. In this way, an optimal combination of law and policy will bring about a favorable pattern for minority rights protection.
Keywords: Rights of Ethnic Minorities; Human Rights White Papers; Equality
Wang Minxuan, Researcher, Human Rights Institute at Southwest University Political Science and Law.