Full text: Respecting and Protecting the Rights of All Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang

White Paper
The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Wednesday released a white paper titled "Respecting and Protecting the Rights of All Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang."

XinhuaUpdated: July 14, 2021

II. Political Rights

All ethnic groups in Xinjiang, regardless of their population, history, development level and customs, have equal status. They all enjoy the democratic right to participate in the administration of state and local affairs and in community-level self-governance.

A system of regional ethnic autonomy is in place. This system is a basic component of China's political system. Under the unified leadership of the state, regional autonomy is practiced in areas where ethnic minority groups live in compact communities. Organs of self-government are established to exercise autonomy in accordance with the law. Regional ethnic autonomy and autonomous areas are not the exclusive possession of any ethnic group.

Xinjiang practices regional autonomy in five prefectures: Bayingol Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, and Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture; and in six counties: Yanqi Hui Autonomous County, Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County, Mori Kazak Autonomous County, Hoboksar Mongolian Autonomous County, Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County, and Barkol Kazak Autonomous County.

All the autonomous areas exercise the power to govern their respective local affairs, and participate as equals in the administration of state affairs. According to the Constitution and relevant state laws, the legislature of an autonomous region, while exercising the powers of a provincial-level administrative division, has the power to enact regulations on the exercise of regional autonomy and other particular regulations in line with local conditions.

Since 1979, the People's Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and its Standing Committee have formulated a total of 669 local regulations, with 161 currently in effect. They have passed 54 resolutions and decisions with regulatory functions or on major issues, and approved 239 separate regulations and other local regulations submitted by prefecture-level cities, autonomous prefectures or autonomous counties.

The right to vote and stand for election is institutionalized. As stipulated by the Constitution and laws, Chinese citizens of any ethnic origin have the right to vote and stand for election. The principles in elections are: universal suffrage, equality, combination of direct and indirect elections, and multi-candidate election [In elections for national and local people's congresses, the number of candidates for election must exceed the number of posts available.]. Citizens of all ethnic groups in the autonomous region directly elect deputies to the people's congresses at county and township levels, who then elect deputies to each succeeding level, from the prefecture-level congress, through the congress of the autonomous region, to the National People's Congress (NPC).

The 13th NPC has 61 deputies from Xinjiang, of whom 38 (62.3 percent) are from ethnic minority groups. The NPC Standing Committee also has ethnic minority members from Xinjiang. The 13th People's Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is formed by 548 deputies, of whom 353 (64.4 percent) are of ethnic minority origins. Xinjiang now has 2,488 deputies to prefecture-level people's congresses (including 1,349 of ethnic minority origins, 54.2 percent), 16,960 deputies to county-level people's congresses (including 10,025 of ethnic minority origins, 59.1 percent), and 43,204 deputies to township-level people's congresses (including 31,739 of ethnic minority origins, 73.5 percent).

The right to participate in the deliberation and administration of state and local affairs is guaranteed. Xinjiang is the only region in China that has autonomous areas at all the three levels – region, prefecture and county. People's congresses and people's governments of ethnic autonomous areas exercise autonomy to administer local affairs. The chair of the autonomous region, the governors of autonomous prefectures, and the heads of autonomous counties are all citizens from the local ethnic groups exercising regional autonomy.

Within the framework of consultative democracy, the local committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Xinjiang encourage people from all walks of life and different ethnic groups to participate in state and local affairs. The committees provide timely, accurate, and efficient reporting on public opinion, and guarantee that the people of all ethnic groups enjoy their right to participate in political consultation and democratic supervision.

The 13th CPPCC National Committee has 34 members from Xinjiang, of whom 18 (52.9 percent) are from ethnic minority groups. The 12th Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee of the CPPCC has 502 members, of whom 236 (47 percent) are from ethnic minority groups. As of March 2021, the 12th Xinjiang Committee of the CPPCC had submitted a total of 2,588 proposals covering politics, the economy, culture, education, science and technology, public wellbeing and other fields.

Community-level self-governance is guaranteed in accordance with the law. Community-level self-governance is a major channel of grassroots democracy in China, and the most effective way to spread as widely as possible the right of the people to be the masters of the country. A number of local regulations provide the legal basis for protecting grassroots democratic rights in the region, including Measures on Implementing the Organic Law of the Urban Residents Committees, Measures on Implementing the Organic Law of the Villagers Committees, Procedures on the Election of the Villagers Committee, and Measures on Making Village Affairs Transparent.

Xinjiang currently has 3,389 urban residents committees and 8,906 villagers committees to run public or welfare affairs, mediate disputes, assist in safeguarding social stability within their respective jurisdictions, and report on the opinions, requests and proposals of residents and villagers to relevant people's governments or their detached agencies. Almost all communities in both urban and rural areas throughout Xinjiang have formulated codes of conduct for citizens. Their capacity to manage their own affairs by involving the local residents in educating and serving the community and exercising public scrutiny is steadily improving.

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