Constitutional Boundary of People’s Ethnic Preferential Treatment in Non Ethnic Autonomous Region -A Study on the Quality and Objective of Ethnic Autonomy in China
September 28,2016   By:chinahumanrights.org
Liang Hongxia (photo: Zhao Yifan)

Constitutional Boundary of People’s Ethnic Preferential Treatment in Non Ethnic Autonomous Region
-A Study on the Quality and Objective of Ethnic Autonomy in China
Liang Hongxia

Associate Professor of Southwest University of Political Science and Law
Abstract:Ethnic preferential treatment, could be simply understood as rights that only minority people or people in the minority ethnic region have, which is special policy from central government to promote the development of minority ethnic region. In China, right of autonomy in ethnic autonomous region generally equals to ethnic preferential treatment. In fact, the subject of ethnic preferential treatment has expanded from ethnic autonomous region to non ethnic autonomous region. The “non ethnic autonomous region” refers to two categories: 1. the area that was used to be ethnic autonomous region and has been resstructured to city, county or district for local administrative plan or economic development; 2. county or city that accommodates a large number of minority people, but is not qualified to be an autonomous area, which is called minority people inhabitant region.
The fact that non ethnic autonomous region in China has the equal or similar right to autonomy as ethnic autonomous region, to some extent, violates some articles of constitution. On the one hand, non ethnic autonomous region could not be shifted to the position that has the same right as ethnic autonomous region does. There are essential differences between the two. Ethnic autonomous region has the right of autonomy, but non ethnic autonomous region does not. If non ethnic autonomous region has the same rights as non ethnic autonomous region does, there would be no sense for the government to make autonomous policy, ethnic autonomous region, and to grant the right of autonomy to it. On the other hand, there should be a constitutional boundary on people’s ethnic preferential treatment. The ethnic preferential treatment on people in non ethnic autonomous region should not break the constitutional system and the right of distinction between central and local government, should not violate people’s basic political rights, therefore, it must be confined within the constitution and comply with related laws. There are two rights of ethnic preferential treatment that could not be granted to people in non ethnic autonomous region: 1. Adaptation and supplement right in legislation, and right to cease and adaptation in enforcement of law; 2. Personnel appointment, executive leader, director and vice director of People’s congress standing committee must be selected from minority groups.
Local government or People’s congress granting right of autonomy to non ethnic autonomous region, is from the universal view on the beneficial quality of autonomous right. From legal regulation and practice, the right of autonomy in China for ethnic autonomous region is different from the local autonomy in other countries. Basically, it is granted by higher authorities or central government, and not independent from national right system, so it is not an exclusive right. Currently, the focus is to benefit minority regions rather than autonomy. No matter it is to benefit or autonomy, the ultimate purpose is to achieve mutual prosperity, and ethnic autonomy, to maintain long lasting stability.
Key words:non ethnic autonomous region; restructured city; minority people inhabitant area; right to autonomy; autonomy in ethnic region
Liang, Hongxia,Ph. D, Associate Professor, Southwest University of Political Science & Law.