Lawmakers from ethnic minorities in northwestern China's Qinghai Province on Wednesday urged for more favorable policies for the minority groups with small population, or the groups each with a population of less than 100,000.
"I hope the country will provide more support for industries with ethnic features in the the formulation of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015)," said Han Yongdong, who is also head of Qinghai's Xunhua Salar Autonomous County government.
"We also need more support for education and employment. Those policies would help the small ethnic groups cultivate an independent 'blood-making' capability to sustain their own development," said Han from Salar, one of China's 22 ethnic groups with small population.
Compared with the country's booming coastal regions, regions where ethnic groups with small population live, mostly in central and western inland regions, remain relatively backward.
To accelerate the development of the regions where ethnic groups with small population live, China's State Council passed in 2005 a guideline, promising to build roads, schools and basic medical institutions, and provide them with access to electricity, TV and phone service, and drinking water, in addition to sufficient farms and pastures to live on.
According to statistics from the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, China had invested more than 2.5 billion yuan (about 368 million U.S. dollars) in 8,065 projects aimed to support small ethnic groups between 2005 and November 2009.
But for Qiao Zhengxiao, another deputy to the NPC and Party chief of the Qinghai University, the aid to ethnic minority groups was still not enough.
"The central government mainly focused on Tibet and other regions of ethnic groups with relatively larger population last year and this year," said Qiao, from the Tu ethnic group.
"I hope the government will attach more importance to ethnic groups with smaller population in the future," he said.
He suggested ethnic minority groups each with population less than 300,000 be covered by the favorable polices passed in 2005.
Meanwhile, Han Yongdong also suggested that museums and research projects should be set up to protect the small ethnic groups' culture.
"My own kid cannot speak the Salar language. It would be too late if we don't start soon," he said.