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

IV. Cultural Rights

Xinjiang attaches great importance to documenting and protecting its excellent traditional ethnic cultures, to ensure that they are passed on to succeeding generations. It has continued its efforts to improve the quality of public cultural services and promote the use of standard Chinese. It encourages ethnic groups to learn spoken and written languages from each other, and takes solid measures to ensure the right to education.

Xinjiang's fine traditional ethnic cultures are protected. The splendid Chinese civilization was created by all ethnic groups of China, and the ethnic cultures are an inseparable part of Chinese culture. China's Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics and Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage, and Xinjiang's local measures and regulations on implementing these laws have laid down a solid legal framework for protecting the ethnic cultures in the region.

Cultural heritage is under effective protection. The ancient city ruins of Gaochang, Jiaohe and Beiting, Kizil Caves, Kizilgaha Beacon Tower, and Subash Temple Ruins have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, collectively known as the "Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor". The Uygur Muqam of Xinjiang and the Kirgiz epic Manas were inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Uygur Meshrep was included on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. All ethnic groups in Xinjiang have items on the national and autonomous regional representative lists of intangible cultural heritage, and there are 133 key cultural heritage sites under state protection.

The cultural traditions of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are protected. Folk cultural events, such as the Han Lantern Festival, the Uygur Meshrep, the Kazak Aytes, the Kirgiz Kobuz Ballad Singing Fair, the Mongolian Nadam Fair, and the Hui Hua'er Folk Song Festival are widely celebrated. Traditional local sports are flourishing and sports meetings of all kinds are held across the region. Competitions and events involving wrestling, horse racing, archery, the Buzkashi (horseback competition for possession of a goat) and the Darwaz (Uygur tightrope walking) are held on traditional holidays and enjoyed by people from all ethnic groups. The local government has supported the creation of works of ethnic literature and the translation of literature between Han and ethnic minority languages, expanding cultural exchanges and integration among the ethnic groups.

The diversity of spoken and written languages is ensured. In accordance with the Constitution, the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, and the Law on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language, the state promotes the nationwide use of Putonghua as the standard spoken language, ensures the right to learn and use the standard spoken and written Chinese language, and provides the conditions to guarantee this. At the same time, all ethnic groups have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages.

Xinjiang promotes standard Chinese, and encourages ethnic groups to learn spoken and written languages from each other, so as to promote communication and unity among all peoples in the region. Currently, more than 10 spoken and written languages are used among the ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Ethnic minority languages are extensively used in such areas as judicature, administration, education, press and publishing, radio and television, literature and art, and public affairs.

Primary and secondary schools provide courses on ethnic minority languages. Citizens of all ethnic groups have the right to use their own language in elections and court proceedings. When performing official duties, Party and government institutions of autonomous areas at the county level and above use standard Chinese together with the languages of the ethnic minority groups that exercise regional autonomy.

Six spoken and written languages – standard Chinese, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Mongolian and Xibe – are used in newspapers, books, audio and video products, and e-publications in the region. Xinjiang publishes more than 100 newspapers, including 52 in ethnic minority languages, and over 200 periodicals, including 120 in ethnic minority languages. Xinjiang Radio and Television Station airs TV programs in four languages and radio programs in five languages. Xinjiang Daily is printed in four languages. Tianshannet (www.ts.cn) and other web portals can be accessed in multiple ethnic languages. Multilingual public signs and services are available at shops, post and telecommunication offices, medical institutions, and transport facilities.

The right to education is fully protected. The right to education is a basic right ensured by the state. With support from the central government, Xinjiang has taken all necessary measures to develop education, sharing the benefits of educational progress equally among all ethnic groups. In 2020, the gross enrollment rate of preschool institutions reached 98.2 percent, the completion rate of nine-year compulsory education was 95.7 percent, and the gross enrollment rate of senior high schools reached 98.9 percent.

In Hotan, Kashgar, Aksu, and the Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture in southern Xinjiang, free education is available covering 15 years from kindergarten to senior high school. All villages in Xinjiang have kindergartens where children have free breakfast and lunch. With timely help from the government, students from poor families have all been able to continue their schooling. More boarding schools have been built in towns and townships to help children in remote farming and pastoral areas to attend school.

Funding for education has steadily increased. In 2020, public education expenditure reached RMB102 billion, including RMB9.1 billion of direct subsidies for 6.7 million students. By 2020, 160,200 students from Xinjiang, including 138,500 ethnic minority students, had received senior high school or secondary vocational education at classes designed for them in more developed areas of the country.

A modern vocational education system has been established in Xinjiang. There are now 37 vocational and technical colleges, including 3 key colleges at the national level and 11 key colleges at the regional level, and 147 secondary vocational schools, including 11 key schools at the regional level. Higher education in Xinjiang is also improving. It now has 56 regular universities, with a total of 2.1 million graduates by 2020, including 767,000 ethnic minority graduates.

Public cultural services have been improved. Xinjiang is moving faster to build a modern public cultural services network characterized by equal access and rich content and variety, meeting the needs of local people. With strong support from the central government, Xinjiang has made sure that all villages have access to radio and TV programs and that all households have access to direct broadcast satellite services. Other public cultural services projects include giving free books and other publications across the region, renovating county-level cultural centers and libraries, building a public database for cultural resources sharing, and building township-level cultural centers.

By 2019, Xinjiang had 112 public libraries, 106 museums and memorial halls, 29 science and technology museums, 60 art museums, 130 county-level cultural centers and 1,350 township-level cultural centers, and 102 radio and television stations (covering 98.7 percent and 98.9 percent of the population). Its public cultural services network covers five levels – autonomous region, prefecture/city, county/district/county-level city, township/sub-district, and village/community.

Cultural centers, libraries, museums, and other cultural amenities are open to the public free of charge. Almost every household has access to radio and TV programs, and people in rural areas can watch films and visit small libraries in their villages. Both urban and rural residents enjoy a variety of cultural activities. Art and literature are flourishing with an abundance of excellent works. Every year Xinjiang publishes more than 10,000 different newspapers, periodicals, books, audio and video products, and e-publications, and translates over 5,000 episodes of TV series and cartoons into ethnic minority languages.

The internet is becoming a new space for people to study, work and relax, and a new platform for them to access public services. In 2020 Xinjiang had 9,318 websites, 8.8 million fixed broadband subscribers, and 23.6 million mobile internet users.

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