The Chinese government Sunday published a white paper on its ethnic policy, stressing harmony and equality among all ethnic groups.
The paper, released by the State Council Information Office, reviewed the country's basic situation of ethnic issues, the government policies over the past six decades and the economic, social and cultural progress in ethnic minority regions.
It was the third white paper on China's ethnic policy after two reports were issued respectively in 1999 and 2005, said an official with the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
"Through this white paper that summed up our ethnic policy and practice, we hope the international society could have a better understanding about the reality our policy is based, about what the policy is, and the impact it has on solving ethnic issues and promoting the development of ethnic minorities in China," the official said.
In China, home to 56 ethnic groups, the Han ethnic group has the largest population while the other 55 ethnic groups are relatively small and called ethnic minorities.
In the past 60 years, the population of ethnic minorities reported continuous increase, from 6.06 percent of the total population in 1953 to 8.41 percent in 2000, the paper said.
The latest national census was conducted in 2000.
Facts proved the country's ethnic policy was effective, the official said. "The Chinese government will stick to it and improve it according to the changing reality."
The country's ethnic policy ensures the equality among all ethnic groups, the paper said. They enjoy equality in personal freedom, legal rights, participation in state affairs, religious belief, use of their own languages and maintaining their own customs.
In the past six decades, China has basically established a legal system with its own characteristics to guarantee the equality of all its ethnic groups, it said.
Ethnic minorities took part in state affairs at the equal footing with Han people. Of the 161 members of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, the country's top legislature, 25 were from ethnic minorities, accounting for 15.53 percent of the total.
Their religious belief was widely respected and protected by law. In Xinjiang, there are over 24,300 mosques and 28,000 Moslem clergymen. In Tibet, there are over 1,700 venues for Tibetan-Buddhist activities, with 46,000 monks and nuns living in temples, according to the paper.
The 58-page document is divided into seven sections: A Unified Multi-Ethnic Country and a Nation with Diverse Cultures; Full Equality among Ethnic Groups; Consolidating and Developing the Great Unity of All Ethnic Groups; Upholding and Improving Regional Ethnic Autonomy; Accelerating the Economic and Social Development of the Ethnic Minorities and Minority Areas; Protection and Development of Cultures of the Ethnic Minorities; Striving to Foster Cadres and Talented People of the Ethnic Minorities.