Legal Protection for the Cultural Rights of Ethnic Minorities in China: Features and Improvement
September 28,2016   By:chinahumanrights.org
Sima Junlian  (photo: Zhao Yifan)

Legal Protection for the Cultural Rights of Ethnic Minorities in China: Features and Improvement
Sima Junlian

Vice-Dean and Professor of Hubei Universitiy for Nationalities
Abstract: The ethnic minorities’ cultural rights are one of their most fundamental rights. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the central government has always attached great importance to the legal protection of the cultural rights of ethnic minorities of the country, enshrined such rights as fundamental human rights in laws, and has ensured the combination of legislation and policies, thus effectively protecting the ethnic minorities’ cultural rights. However, as China enters a new stage of development, it has become imperative to make more modifications to legal protections of ethnic minorities’ cultural rights so as to meet the changing trends in cultural environment and policies at home and abroad. At present, there remain some deficiencies in the legal protection of such rights, namely, the over-simplicity of the approach to protection, insufficiency of the content of such protection, infeasibility of some protective measures, a lack of conscious motivation for such protection, among others. To tackle these problems, we should consolidate the legal system by including protecting ethnic minorities’ cultural rights into the Constitution as a fundamental principle and giving more consideration to local characteristics and improving the operability in local legislation; in terms of legislative procedures, sufficient respect should be given to minority ethnic groups; and in setting legislative goals, the relationship between protection and development should be soundly coordinated, and voluntary cultural innovation by ethnic minorities should be encouraged. On the other hand, ethnic minorities should also cultivate their own “cultural awareness” and step up the protection of their culture. Only when governments at different levels and the entire society join hands and take all-round measures can we eventually enhance China’s harmonious development through protecting the ethnic minorities’ cultural rights and establishing a harmonious ethnic relationship on the basis of equality, solidarity and mutual assistance.  
Key Words: Ethnic Minorities in China; Cultural Rights; Legal Protection; Improving Policies
Sifa Junlian, Professor, Hubei University for Nationalities.