State Council Announces New Plan to Increase Number of Minorities With Advanced Degrees

March 2, 2005

According to a State Council White Paper on Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China released on February 28, the Chinese government plans to enroll 2,500 students from ethnic minority areas in MA and PhD programs during 2005. The plan calls for adding another 2,500 in 2006, to bring the total to 15,000.

The Chinese government recognizes that implementing its minority policy requires a loyal corps of minority cadres in government offices, schools, government infrastructure projects, religious organizations, and other positions. Educational levels in minority areas generally fall well below the national average, however, making it difficult to place minorities in positions requiring advanced skills (although political considerations also affect hiring decisions). Articles 16, 17, and 18 of the Law of Regional Autonomy stipulate that the heads of government in provincial-level regional autonomous areas, prefectures, and counties should be members of the ethnic group practicing regional autonomy. The same provisions also encourage hiring ethnic minority cadres in other government offices. In July 2002, the State Council approved the joint appointment of State Ethnic Affairs Commission members to 20 government ministries and bureaus. No provisions mandate similar ethnic representation, however, within the Communist Party.