"Flourishing Borders, Prosperous Nationalities" Campaign Expanded

February 1, 2005

The State Ethnic Affairs Commission and the Finance Ministry’s decision to expand the "Flourishing Borders, Prosperous Nationalities" campaign launched in 2000 was recently elected one of the 2004 Top Ten News Stories on Minority Nationalities by a committee comprising State Ethnic Affairs Commission officials, representatives from several major journals on minority issues, academics, and central news agencies. The central government launched the "Flourishing Borders, Prosperous Nationalities" campaign in conjunction with the better known "Great Western Development" campaign of 1999, and Chinese leadership has hailed it as a cornerstone of "the new era of minority policy."

Originally, central authorities designated nine counties as experimental “Flourishing Borders, Prosperous Nationalities Counties;” this number increased to 17 in 2001 and to 37 in 2004. The campaign emphasizes providing adequate food and shelter to the abject poor; providing water, power, and roads; assuring nine years of compulsory education and improving scientific and vocational training; constructing Minority Cultural Centers; restructuring industry to use natural resources more rationally; creating an export-oriented economy centered on border trade, and improving the environment by returning farmlands to forest and pasture.

The State Ethnic Affairs Commission recommended several adjustments to the policy last year and urged local Flourishing Borders, Prosperous Nationalities Leading Groups to adopt projects of immediate and visible benefit to the minority population and to publicize the benefits of the Campaign more widely. The 2004 Recommendations indicated a need for better monitoring of allocated funds and more explicit penalties for counties that divert project funds. The Recommendations also reflect a recent trend of granting preferential policies to China’s numerically smallest minority groups.