China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)
Most minority groups resided in areas they traditionally inhabited. Government policy calls for members of recognized minorities to receive preferential treatment in birth planning, university admission, access to loans, and employment. However, the substance and implementation of ethnic minority policies remained poor, and discrimination against minorities remained widespread.
Minority groups in border and other regions had less access to education than their Han counterparts, faced job discrimination in favor of Han migrants, and earned incomes well below those in other parts of the country. Government development programs often disrupted traditional living patterns of minority groups and included, in some cases, the forced relocation of persons. Han Chinese benefited disproportionately from government programs and economic growth. As part of its emphasis on building a "harmonious society," the government downplayed racism and institutional discrimination against minorities, which remained the source of deep resentment in the XUAR, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and Tibetan areas.
Ethnic minorities represented approximately 14 percent of delegates to the NPC and more than 15 percent of NPC standing committee members, according to an official report issued in July. A November 19 article in the official online news source for overseas readers stated that ethnic minorities comprised 41.3 percent of cadres in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 25.4 percent of cadres in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and 51 percent of cadres in the XUAR. During the year all five of the country's ethnic minority autonomous regions had chairmen (the chairman in an autonomous region is equivalent to the governor of a province) from minority groups. The CCP secretaries of these five autonomous regions were all Han. Han officials continued to hold the majority of the most powerful CCP and government positions in minority autonomous regions, particularly the XUAR.
The government's policy to encourage Han Chinese migration into minority areas significantly increased the population of Han in the XUAR. In recent decades the Han-Uighur ratio in the capital of Urumqi has reversed from 20/ 80 to 80/20 and continued to be a source of Uighur resentment. Discriminatory hiring practices gave preference to Han and discouraged job prospects for ethnic minorities. According to 2005 statistics published by XUAR officials, eight million of the XUAR's 20 million official residents were Han. Hui, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur, and other ethnic minorities constituted approximately 12 million XUAR residents. Official statistics understated the Han population, because they did not count the tens of thousands of Han Chinese who were long-term "temporary workers." While the government continued to promote Han migration into the XUAR and filled local jobs with migrant labor, overseas human rights organizations reported that local officials under direction from higher levels of government deceived and pressured young Uighur women to participate in a government-sponsored labor transfer program.
The XUAR government took measures to dilute expressions of Uighur identity, including reduction of education in ethnic minority languages in XUAR schools and the institution of language requirements that disadvantaged ethnic minority teachers. The government continued to apply policies thatprioritized standard Chinese for instruction in school, thereby reducing or eliminating ethnic-language instruction. Graduates of minority-language schools typically needed intensive Chinese study before they could handle Chinese-language course work at a university. The dominant position of standard Chinese in government, commerce, and academia put graduates of minority-language schools who lacked standard Chinese proficiency at a disadvantage.
During the year authorities continued to implement repressive policies in the XUAR and targeted the region's ethnic Uighur population. Officials in the XUAR continued to implement a pledge to crack down on the government-designated "three forces" of religious extremism, ethnic separatism, and terrorism and outlined efforts to launch a concentrated antiseparatist reeducation campaign.
It was sometimes difficult to determine whether raids, detentions, and judicial punishments directed at individuals or organizations suspected of promoting the three forces were actually used to target those peacefully seeking to express their political or religious views. The government continued to repress Uighurs expressing peaceful political dissent and independent Muslim religious leaders, often citing counterterrorism as the reason for taking action.
Uighurs continued to be sentenced to long prison terms, and in some cases executed without due process, on charges of separatism and endangering state security. The government reportedly pressured third countries to return Uighurs outside the country, who faced the risk of persecution if repatriated.
Freedom of assembly was severely limited during the year in the XUAR.
According to state official media accounts, on July 18, a group of Uighurs attacked a police station in Hotan, XUAR, killing two security guards and taking eight hostages. Police killed 14 of the attackers, captured four, and rescued six hostages; two hostages died in the rescue attempt. On July 30 and 31, through stabbings and bombings, Uighur men in Kashgar, XUAR, killed 13 persons. In the July30 incident, the civilians killed one of the Uighur attackers and took another into custody. In the July 31 incident, police shot and killed five of the suspects, took four into custody, and subsequently killed two suspects who had initially escaped. Four of the detained Uighurs were subsequently given death sentences for their involvement in the violence.
State media reported that on December 28, security forces in Hotan Prefecture, XUAR, killed seven persons and injured four others while rescuing hostages. Two police officers reportedly were killed in the incident.
In 2009 the government announced it would demolish three buildings owned by the family of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Conference. The government blamed Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman in exile, for orchestrating the 2009 riots in Urumqi. At year's end the buildings had not been demolished but remained vacant and condemned. Two of Kadeer's sons also remained in prison.
Possession of publications or audiovisual materials discussing independence or other sensitive subjects was not permitted. Uighurs who remained in prison at year's end for their peaceful expression of ideas the government found objectionable included Abdulla Jamal, Adduhelil Zunun, and Nurmuhemmet Yasin.
During the year XUAR and national-level officials defended the campaign against the three forces of religious extremism, splittism, and terrorism and other emergency measures taken as necessary to maintain public order. Officials continued to use the threat of violence as justification for extreme security measures directed at the local population, journalists, and visiting foreigners.
In 2009 state media reported that XUAR authorities approved the Information Promotion Bill, making it a criminal offense to discuss separatism on the Internet and prohibiting use of the Internet in any way that undermines national unity. The regulation further bans inciting ethnic separatism or harming social stability. It requires Internet service providers and network operators to set up monitoring systems or strengthen existing ones and report transgressions of the law.
Han control of the region's political and economic institutions also contributed to heightened tension. Although government policies continued to allot economic investment in, and brought economic improvements to the XUAR, Han residents received a disproportionate share of the benefits.
(For specific information on Tibet, please see the Tibet addendum.)