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The Characteristics and Prospects of China’s Assistance to Minority Areas in Realizing the Right to Development
June 28,2017   By:CSHRS
The Characteristics and Prospects of China's Assistance to Minority Areas in Realizing the Right to Development
 
ZHOU Wei* & CAO Shu**
 


Abstract: Assisting minority areas to realize the right to development is an important part of Chinese Government’s goals of protecting human rights and building a prosperous society. To assist minority areas to realize the right to development, China’s Constitution, laws, administrative regulations and policy documents define the State’s constitutional obligations. There also exists a legal and policy support system to help the minority areas to achieve economic and social development through measures such as transfer payments, assistance to Tibet and Xinjiang and counterpart support for poverty alleviation. However, China is also faced with the difficult challenges of poverty reduction, development, unbalanced regional development and other issues in assisting minority nationalities to realize the right to development.

Keywords: minority areas♦ right to development ♦characteristics ♦prospects

I. TheConstitutional Background for Assisting Minority Areas to Realize the Right to Development

“The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.”1 China's  Constitution stipulates the State's constitutional obligations to assist minority areas in their development while legal instruments such as laws, administrative regulations, autonomous regulations, specific regulations, local laws and regulations, government regulations, etc., stipulate the State’s legal responsibilities in this respect. These stipulations in the Constitution and laws have experienced an institutionalization and legalization process from legal propositions and policies to a legal support system for the State to assist minority areas to realize the right to development.

Firstly, the Constitution and laws on regional ethnic autonomy stipulate the fundamental principles and components of the State’s assistance to minority autonomous areas in realizing the right to development. Such stipulations appeared first in the sixth Chapter of Implementation Program of Regional Ethnic Autonomy adopted in 1952, “Leadership Principles of People’s Governments at High Levels”, Article 32 of which stipulates, “[p]eople’s governments at higher levels shall assist organs of self-government in national autonomous regions to train cadres of minority nationalities in a planned way”; Article 33 also stipulates, “[p]eople’s governments at higher levels shall assist national autonomous regions in their political, economic, cultural, educational and public health development”. At that time, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region had been founded. Article 72 of the 1954 Constitution stipulates, “[t]he higher organs of state should fully safeguard the exercise of autonomy by organs of self-government of autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties, and should assist all the minority nationalities in their political, economic and cultural development”.This stipulation on “all the minority nationalities in their political, economic and cultural development”encapsulates the economic, cultural, educational and public health development in national autonomous areas. Since the enactment of the 1954 Constitution, China has established autonomous regions in Xinjiang, Guangxi, Ningxia and Tibet successively,  2and implemented specific measures for assisting the development of all national autonomous areas.

Article 40 of the 1978 Constitution stipulates, “[t]he higher organs of state should fully safeguard the exercise of autonomy by organs of self-government of national autonomous areas, take into full consideration the characteristics and needs of the various minority nationalities, make a major effort to train cadres of the minority nationalities, and actively support and assist all the minority nationalities in their socialist revolution and construction and thus advance their socialist economic and cultural development”. This stipulation revises the recipients from “national autonomous areas”into the counterpart for Han nationality-“minority nationalities”, with focus on “socialist economic and cultural development”, indicating the influence of Cultural Revolution. Article 4 (2) of 1982 Constitution stipulates, “[t]he State assists areas inhabited by minority nationalities in accelerating their economic and cultural development according to the characteristics and needs of the various minority nationalities”; Article 122 stipulates, “[t]he State provides financial, material and technical assistance to the minority nationalities to help accelerate their economic and cultural development. The State helps the national autonomous areas train large numbers of cadres at various levels and specialized personnel and skilled workers of various professions and trades from among the nationality or nationalities in those areas”.These stipulations establish the following principles: (1) considering that not all national autonomous areas are in need of state assistance, the assistance shall comply with actual needs, namely “according to the characteristics and needs of the various minority nationalities”; (2) the assistance focuses on financial, material and technical aspects; (3) the recipients of the assistance are all minority nationalities; (4) as the development of minority areas generally lag behind that of other places, one purpose of assistance is to accelerate their economic and cultural development; and (5) another purpose is to improve the development capabilities of national autonomous areas. The 1982 Constitution establishes the principles, components and focus of the State’s assistance to minority nationalities in realizing the right to development, and laying constitutional foundation for it. The 1984 Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law reiterates the constitutional stipulation of the State’s assistance to minority nationalities in realizing the right to development, while the 2001Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law revises the former version and increases articles on this issue from 13 to 19, of which paragraph 1 and 2 of Article 55 stipulate, “[t]he state agencies at higher levels should assist and guide the research, formulation, and implementation of the autonomous areas’economic development strategies and assist the regional autonomous areas in financial, material, technical, personnel, and other areas to aid in the development of their economic, educational, scientific and technical, public health and sports enterprises”, “[t]he state shall develop preferential policies to attract and encourage domestic and international investment in ethnic autonomous areas”. Paragraph 1 and 2 of Article 56 stipulate, “[i]n accordance with unified planning and market demands the state gives priority to exploiting natural resources and developing basic infrastructure in regional autonomous areas. When investing in major infrastructure projects, the state will properly increase its share of investment and the share of loans from policy-driven banks”, “[f]or state infrastructure projects in regional autonomous areas ordinarily requiring matching funds, the state may reduce or completely remove the local matching fund requirements depending on the circumstances”. Article 59 (1) stipulates, “[t]he state sets aside special funds to help ethnic autonomous areas develop their economy and culture”. The Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law lays the legal foundation for realizing the minority nationalities’right to development.

Secondly, laws and administrative regulations define specific details of the State’s assistance to minority nationalities in realizing the right to development. To implement stipulations made by the Constitution and the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law, the laws on education, civil servants, promotion of employment as well as some administrative regulations define specific details of the State’s assistance to minority nationalities in realizing the right to development in education, employment, culture, public health, etc. Features of these stipulations include: (1) assisting inhabitants in minority areas to realize the right to education, as per Article 10 (1) of Education Law. It stipulates, “[t]he State, in light of the characteristics and needs of the different minority ethnic groups, provides assistance to the development of educational undertakings in regions inhabited by the minority ethnic groups”, and Article 57 stipulates, “[t]he State Council and the people’s governments at or above the county level shall set up a special fund for education to be used mainly for assisting outlying and poverty-stricken areas and areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups in enforcing compulsory education there”; (2) giving preferential treatment to inhabitants in minority areas in employment by the State Council, as Article 21 (2) of Civil Servant Law stipulates, “[w]here there is any employment of civil servants in an autonomous region according to the provisions of the foreside paragraph, the applicants of ethnic minorities shall be given appropriate preferential treatment according to laws and other relevant provisions”; and (3) prohibiting ethnic discrimination in employment, as Article 21 (2) of Law onPromotion of Employment stipulates, “[t]he State supports ethnic minority areas in their efforts to develop the economy and increase employment”, and Article 28 stipulates, “[t]he peoples of all ethnic groups enjoy equal right to work. When an employing unit recruits persons, it shall give appropriate considerations to the persons of ethnic minorities in accordance with law”. To implement stipulations made by the Constitution and the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law and protect minority nationalities’right to development, the State Council issued Several Provisions of the State Council on the Implementation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, the first ever administrative regulation on the implementation of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law, in which a series of specific measures and preferential policies were proposed to provide further details beyond the stipulation made by the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law on assisting minority nationalities to realize the right to development.

Thirdly, a legal support system for the State to assist minority areas to realize the right to development has been established. It includes three aspects: (1) formulating legal documents to promote the implementation of the State’s assisting obligations, as the Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Strengthening Ethnic Work and Accelerating the Economic and Social Development of Minority Nationalities and Minority Areas (No. 10 Document of CPC Central Committee in 2005) proposes that “giving more strategic priority to accelerating the development of minority nationalities and minority areas. Assisting minority nationalities and minority areas to accelerate their development is both a basic principle of CPC Central Committee and the top priority for advancing western development”; (2) formulating special programs of poverty alleviation for minority areas, as the Outline for Development-oriented Poverty Reduction for China's Rural Areas (2011-2020) enacted in 2011 proposes to bring development-oriented poverty alleviation for minority nationalities under the plan and strengthen support by giving preferential treatment. Furthermore, the Notice of General Office of the State Council on Issuing the Twelfth Five-Year Plan for Minority Nationalities (No. 38 Document of General Office of the State Council in 2012) proposes to “strengthen development-oriented poverty alleviation for minority nationalities and minority areas”and puts forward specific measures such as increasing transfer payments, counterpart support, ecological compensation, etc.; (3) institutionalizing the system of transfer payment to minority areas, as the Communiquéof the Fifth Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee of CPC issued in 2015 emphasizes the importance of “increasing transfer payments to minority areas”and the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economy and Social Development issued in 2016 proposes to strengthen the support for minority areas and launch talent support programs for outlying poverty-stricken areas and frontier minority areas, in order to accelerate the economic development and improve people’s livelihood, and stipulates how to promote the healthy development of minority areas in a special section.

II. Legal Practices of China’s Assistance to Minority Areas in Realizing the Right to Development

A. Transfer payment

For natural and historical reasons, minority areas are less economically developed, weak in self-financing capacity and poor in public services. Assisting minority areas to develop the economy and improve people’s livelihood through financial support is considered by the central government to be an important part of assisting minority areas to realize the right to development. Since 2000, the central government has established the system of transfer payments to minority areas, which is a preferential policy specifically aimed at national autonomous areas. From 2000 to 2005, targets for transfer payments include five autonomous regions, three provinces considered as minority areas in the financial system (Qinghai, Yunnan and Guizhou) and eight autonomous prefectures in non-minority provinces.  3In 2006, 53 autonomous counties in non-minority provinces or prefectures, including Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County in Chongqing, were included in the transfer payment system. By the end of 2015, the transfer system has covered all minority areas, including five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 120 autonomous counties, and a mechanism to ensure the stable growth of transfer payments has been established. From 2011 to 2015, the transfer payments to minority areas have been recorded at 37 billion, 42 billion, 46.2 billion, 52 billion and 58.2 billion yuan, with growth rates of 12.1%, 13.5%, 10.5%, 12.1% and 11.9% year on year, respectively; the total amount of transfer payments to minority areas from 2000 to 2015 reaches 395.5 billion yuan. 4 In addition, for transfer payments below the provincial level, additional funds, separate from transfer payments from central government, will be transferred to lower levels according to their financial situations.

B. Assistance to aid Xinjiang and Tibet

Since 1980, the central government has held six forums on the development of Tibet, making an overall plan for assisting Tibet to accelerate economic and social development and realize the right to development of all minority nationalities in Tibet. 5 In 1980, the first forum on the development of Tibet led to assistance by way of institutionalization; in 1984, the second forum on the development of Tibet proposed the assistance guideline of “direct investment from the state, fiscal subsidies from the central government and counterpart support from the whole country”, symbolizing the beginning of nationwide assistance to aid Tibet; from the third forum on development of Tibet, the policy of counterpart support for Tibet was implemented, with 60 central government departments, 18 provinces (municipalities) and 17 central enterprises arranged to offer support. Over the next 20 years, 4496 cadres in seven batches and 1466 specialists have worked in Tibet and 7615 assistance programs with a total investment of 26 billion yuan have been carried out to improve people’s livelihood and infrastructure construction, making tremendous contributions to the economic and social development of Tibet. The fiscal revenue of Tibet has increased from 22.39 million yuan in 1965 to 16.475 billion yuan in 2014, with an annual growth rate of 14.46%.6

In 2010 and 2014, the central government held forums on the development of Xinjiang each year, arranging counterpart support from the whole country to assist the economic and social development of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. In March 2010, the first working conference on counterpart support for Xinjiang was held when the central government arranged 19 provinces (municipalities) to support 82 counties of 12 cities (prefectures) in Xinjiang and 12 divisions of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. By the end of 2014, these 19 provinces (municipalities) had allocated 53.6 billion yuan to carry out 4906 programs of assistance to aid Xinjiang, with 6482 cooperation projects from these places introduced and 827.7 billion yuan in funding. From 2010 to 2014, the financial subsidies from the central government to Xinjiang reach 1061.65 billion yuan, equivalent to 1.68 times the 630.15 billion yuan allocated by the central government to Xinjiang from 1955 to 2009. Over the past 60 years, the financial subsidies from the central government to Xinjiang amount to 1691.8 billion yuan.7

C. Counterpart support

The National Conference on Border Defense held in 1979 proposes the guideline of national assistance to aid Tibet, launching the practice of assisting minority areas to realize the right to development. As provinces (municipalities) enjoy equal legal status with autonomous regions in the administrative division, they have no constitutional or legal responsibilities to assist; therefore this form of support must be applied.

The National Conference on Border Defense held in April 1979 proposes that, “the State will strengthen the development of border and minority areas by increasing investment and resource input and organizing other provinces and municipalities to provide counterpart support to these areas”. Detailed plans on counterpart support from developed provinces (municipalities) in the east to eight minority provinces were confirmed: Beijing to Inner Mongolia, Hebei to Guizhou, Jiangsu to Guangxi and Xinjiang, Shandong to Qinghai, Tianjin to Gansu , 8Shanghai to Yunnan and Ningxia, and the whole country to Tibet. It 9was significant in that it was the first instance in which counterpart support was confirmed as a national policy.

Article 61 of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law enacted in 1984 firstly stipulates the legal principles for higher state organs to organize and endorse counterpart support in the form of basic law. In October 1982, the State Development Planning Commission and State Ethnic Affairs Commission held a forum on counterpart support from developed provinces and municipalities to minority areas and economic and technological cooperation between them, and the State Council approved and forwarded the Forum Summary to further indicate the direction for counterpart support. In 1984, counterpart support from Shanghai to Xinjiang and Tibet, from Guangdong to Guizhou, from Shenyang and Wuhan to Qinghai were also added. In terms of the form of support, establishing counterpart relations between cities in developed provinces and those in minority areas became the prevalent form, covering the economy, talent, education, technology, culture, public health, etc. During the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, provinces and municipalities in the east have provided financial aid worth 5.69 billion yuan to poverty-stricken areas in the west, mobilized social forces to donate 0.38 billion yuan, guided enterprises to invest 1.2 trillion yuan; 684 cadres of party and government from the east have worked in the west while 1150 from west have worked in the east; 770 thousand people in the west have been trained for labor export, with the number of labor exports has reached 2.403 million.10

D. Special assistance for poverty alleviation

The State has considered border and minority areas as key areas for poverty alleviation and identified some key counties for poverty alleviation in these areas to prioritize support. The Outline for Development-oriented Poverty Reduction for China’s Rural Areas (2011-2020) enacted in 2011 considers 14 concentrated destitute areas as the key battleground for poverty alleviation, and 11 of them are in national autonomous areas. 11 Among 592 key counties for poverty alleviation, 263 are in national autonomous areas; among 30,000 poverty-stricken villages identified in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan for poverty alleviation, 13,158 are in national autonomous areas. 12 With poor living conditions, intense poverty and a challenging task for poverty alleviation, poverty-stricken minority areas are tough nuts to crack for the State's assistance to minority nationalities in realizing the right to development and alleviating poverty.  13During the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, poverty alleviation funds allocated by the central government add up to 189.84 billion yuan, with an average annual growth rate of 14.5%. Most of these funds are invested in the 14 concentrated destitute areas and key counties and villages for poverty alleviation while newly increased funds are generally used in concentrated areas of destitution. The allocation of funds adheres to the guideline of giving preferential treatment to western areas, poverty-stricken minority areas, border areas and old revolutionary areas.  14The National Outline of Poverty Alleviation During the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan approved by the State Council on November 15, 2016 proposes to combine poverty alleviation with overall development and accelerate the implementation of key projects for enhancing the self-development abilities of poverty-stricken areas, especially for minority areas, border areas, old revolutionary areas and areas concentrated destitution, in order to end the bottleneck of development and ensure the realization of poverty alleviation goals in 2020; the Outline also proposes detailed plans for realizing the right to development in minority areas.

III. The Prospects of China’s Assistance to Minority Areas in Realizing the Right to Development

A. The arduous task of poverty alleviation

With weak development foundations, minority areas are much less developed than the whole country and the development gap is widening. As minority areas are places with the most concentrated rural population, the deepest poverty intensity, and the highest rate of return-to-poverty, China's assistance to minority areas in realizing the right to development is a long-term, complex and arduous task. In 2015, the rural poverty-stricken population in eight minority provinces (autonomous regions) stood at 18.13 million, accounting for 32.5% of the total in the country, a small increase compared with the previous year (31.4%); poverty incidence is 12.1%, higher than the national average (5.7%); the poverty reduction rate is only 17.8%, lower than  the national average (20.6%), indicating a slower pace for poverty reduction in eight minority provinces (autonomous regions).15 In 2014, per capita disposable incomes of rural residents in Guizhou, Tibet and Yunnan was 6671.2, 7359.2 and 7456.1 yuan respectively, the lowest of which is only equivalent to 31.5% of that in Shanghai (21,191.6 yuan). 16In terms of public health, in 2014, the number of hospitals in Tibet, Ningxia and Qinghai are 112, 161 and 185 respectively, the lowest of which is no more than one tenth of that in Guangdong (1260).17 In addition, infrastructure related to production and livelihood, such as water, electricity and gas (methane) supplies, as well as roads, are far less developed, and even the safety of drinking water for some people has not been properly addressed. To sum up, problems such as a less developed economy, weak infrastructure, low education level and less employment exacerbate the severity of the problems in realizing the right to development. Assisting minority areas to alleviate poverty and become better off is a substantial challenge for the State to assist minority areas in realizing the right to development at present and in the future.

B. Ecological problems to be solved

Conflicts among population, resources and environment have constrained the sustainable development of the economy and society in minority areas. The National Program of Ecological and Environmental Protection (No. 38 Document issued by the State Council in 2000) proposes to increase the number of counties, cities and districts where ecological function areas at are to be established from 436 to 676, with the proportion of such areas in national territory being increased from 41% to 53%.  18Promoting sustainable development in minority areas through maintaining the environment conditions in ecological function areas and taking advantage of ecological and natural resources in poverty-stricken areas is one of the major challenges in realizing the right to development in minority areas. Most minority areas have a fragile ecological environment with limited environmental capacities: oasis in Xinjiang only covers 5% of the national territory, while over 90% of grasslands across the pasturing area have been degenerated through overgrazing. In addition the desert, gobi and lands endangered by sand storm in Gansu Province cover over 40% of the total area; desertification land in Minqin County, Wuwei of Gansu Province, covers 94% of the total area, with desertification advancing in recent years. The fragile ecology in minority areas creates problems such as soil erosion, severe desertification, frequent natural disasters and environment pollution, etc., while poverty aggravates the impact of these natural disasters, such as the persistent drought in Yunnan Province, “April 25”Earthquake in Tibet, “July 4”Earthquake in Pishan of Xinjiang, landslide in Guizhou, etc.

C. Balanced development of minority areas

As the economic and cultural features of minority areas differ from those of other areas, advancing the economic development in minority areas is an important way to realize the right to development, but it is not the only way. Balanced development of culture and society should also be paid of particular note. Due to their special locations and historical backgrounds, minority areas cultivate special regional cultures, which is also an important part of Chinese culture. Both the Constitution and Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law include stipulations on the protection and archiving of ethnic cultural heritage as well as the development and prosperity of ethnic cultures.  19For example, although ethnic languages are considered the foundation and carrier of a nation's unique arts and customs as well as the soul of ethnic culture, due to economic globalization, strong consumer culture, trans-regional exchanges and migration movement, some ethnic languages, especially those used by a small population or without written languages, are on the brink of decline or even extinction. It is thus clear that the cultural protection in minority areas is not going well. The Twelfth Five-Year Plan of Minority Nationalities proposes to strengthen the support to the cultural development of minority nationalities and further promote the prosperous development of ethnic culture. Therefore, realizing the balanced development in minority areas through supporting the transmission, development and innovation of ethnic culture and improving the soft power in minority areas is the goal for further endeavors in realizing the right of development.

D. Population modernization in minority areas

The Fourth Central Working Conference on Minority Nationalities held in 2014 proposes to properly address ethnic issues in urban areas. Since the reform and liberalization policy was adopted, China has witnessed an active period for trans-regional movement of all minority nationalities, during which a large amount of surplus rural labor are employed in cities as migrant workers, increasing on average 7.93 million annually from 2011 to 2014.  20With special locations, religions, living environments and cultural habits (including language), migrant workers from poverty-stricken minority areas cannot adapt to cities due to their maladaptation to the health habits and communication methods in cities. These problems are more prominent in the early period of their urban life, as the maladaptation and long adaptive period bring adverse effects to their employment and living. For example, it is difficult for female minority nationalities to enter the housekeeping business due to their limited knowledge as well as the maladaptation to health habits and lifestyle in cities; for male minority nationalities, such problems as excessive drinking, extravagance and waste become more prominent as they feel unfamiliar with urban life after they go to cities. To sum up, there is a lack of channels and social environment for minority nationalities to adapt themselves to working and living in cities. Therefore, establishing a system or mechanism of supporting migrant minority nationalities to make cities adopt minority nationalities and minority nationalities adapt to cities is an important part for realizing the right to development in minority areas.

 

*ZHOU Wei ( 周伟 ),director at Human Rights Law Research Centre, Sichuan University.

**CAO Shu ( 曹舒 ), postgraduate student atLaw School, Sichuan University.

1Article 1 (1) of Declaration on the Right to Development, approved by the Resolution 41/128 of the UN General Assembly on December 4, 1986.

2Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the first autonomous region in China, was founded on May 1, 1947; Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region were founded on October 1, 1955, March 15, 1958, October 25, 1958, respectively; Tibet Autonomous Region, the last of such autonomous regions, was founded on September 9, 1965.

3The five autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Tibet and Guangxi) and three provinces where minority nationalities concentrate (Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai) are called “Eight Minority Provinces”; apart from these, eight autonomous prefectures include: Yanbian in Jilin Province, Enshi in Hubei Province, Xiangxi in Hunan Province, Aba and Ganzi in Sichuan Province, Linxia and Gannan in Gansu Province.

4Source: Finance Ministry of P.R.C.

5Six forums on development of Tibet: the first is from March 14 to 15, 1980, the second from February to March 1984, the third from July 20 to 23, 1994, the fourth from June 25 to 27, 2001, the fifth from January 18 to 20, 2010, and the six from August 24 to 25, 2015.

6The State CouncilInformation Office of P.R.C., A White Paper on Successful Practice of Regional Ethinic Autonomy System in Tibet, issued on September 6, 2015.

7The State CouncilInformation Officeof P.R.C., A White Paper on Historical Witness to Ethnic Equality, Unity and Development in Xinjiang, issued on September 25, 2015.

8In 2010, the opening of forum on development of Xinjiang marks the beginning of the counterpart support program with widest participation areas, most people involved, highest fund input and  most complete support targets. Over the 10 years from 2010, 19 provinces (municipalities) will provide counterpart supports to 12 cities (prefectures) in Xinjiang and 12 divisions of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (excluding Urumchi and Karamay).

9Note: (1) In August 1983, the State Council, under the guideline of supporting Tibet with the whole country, decided to arrange Sichuan, Zhejiang, Shanghai and Tianjin to provide counterpart supports to Tibet; (2) the third forum on development of Tibet held in 1993 decided to arrange 14 provinces and municipalities (Chongqing was added later) including Beijing, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hubei, Hunan, Tianjin, Sichuan, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Liaoning, Hebei and Shaanxi to provide counterpart supports to 44 counties in 7 cities, including Lhasa, Shigatse, Lhoka, Qamdo, Nyingchi, Nagchu and Ngari, with two provinces or municipalities responsible for one city in Tibet. At the same time, 29 ministries and commissions of the State Council will provide counterpart supports to regional departments of Tibet; (3) the fourth forum on development of Tibet held in 2001 extended the original ten-year plan of “counterpart support to Tibet” with another ten years, with the counterpart relations remaining the same and 3 provinces and 17 central enterprises added to provide counterpart support to Tibet; in addition, 29 counties in Tibet were newly included in the counterpart support program, marking that all of the 74 counties (cities or districts) in Tibet are included in the gradually improved counterpart support program.

10The State CouncilInformation Officeof P.R.C.,A White Paper on China’s Progress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights, issued on October 17, 2016.

1114 concentrated destitute areas include: concentrated destitute areas in Liupanshan Area, Qinba Mountainous Area, Wuling Mountainous Area, stony desertification area at the junction of Yunnan, Guangxi and Guizhou, mountain area at the border of western Yunnan, southern foot area of Great Khingan Mountains, Yanshan-Taihang Mountainous Area, Lvliang Mountainous Area, Dabie Mountainous Area, Luoxiao Mountainous Area as well as Tibet, Tibetan areas in four provinces and three prefectures in southern Xinjiang that have been confirmed to enjoy preferential policies.

 12TheState Council Information Officeof P.R.C., A White Paper on China’sProgress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights, issued on October 17, 2016.

13“Report of the State Council on Accelerating the Economic and Social Development of Minority Nationalities and Minority Areas”, made by Ren Yangjing, head of State Ethnic Affairs Commissionof P.R.C., on December 22, 2010.

14“Central Government increases Transfer Payments to Areas Like Old Revolutionary Areas in 2015”,accessed November 6, 2016, http://news.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2015-12/07/c_1117384251.htm.

 15State Ethnic Affairs Commissionof P.R.C., “Poverty Situation in Rural Minority Areas (2015)”, issuedon April 11,2016.

16National Bureau of Statisticsof P.R.C.,China Rural Statistical Yearbook (2015)(Beijing: China Statistics Press, 2015), 299.

17See Tibet Statistic Yearbook (2015), Ningxia Statistic Yearbook (2015), Qinghai Statistic Yearbook (2015), and Guangdong Statistic Yearbook (2015).

18National Development and Reform Commissionof P.R.C.,“Approval of Requiring Instructions for Adjusting the Scope of Ecological Function Areas at State Level by the State Council”, accessed November 7, 2016, http://www.sdpc.gov.cn/gzdt/201609/t20160928_820447.html.

19Article 119 of the Constitution and Article 38 (2) of Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law.

20The State Council Information Officeof P.R.C.,A White Paper on China’s Progress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights, issued on October 17, 2016.