Thursday, March 03, 2005

Apartheid in China?

This is an interesting statistical analysis done by a Westerner on China's own statistics on ethnic minorities, and appears to prove that the minorities are doing badly in the system.  Are there any analytical problems here, or is it straight forward proving of facts? 
The new apartheid

With much fanfare China has just released a white paper on "Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China." This has been accompanied by the full state media press:

1. China "endeavors (sic) to protect, foster ethnic minorities' tradional cultures", including this: The Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Korean and Yi languages have coded character sets and national standards for fonts and keyboard. Software in the Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur and Korean languages canbe run in the Windows system. Microsoft as a developmental yardstick.
2. "Ethnic autonomous regions account for 64% of China's territory". The 64% of land covered is largely desert or mountains (map here), such as Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet.
3. "Regional autonomy system benefits all ethinc groups in China".

The 55 ethnic minorities comprise 8% of China's population, the other 92% being Han Chinese. The GDP of the autonomous areas is 1,038 billion yuan, giving a per-capita income of 1,895 yuan, according to the report. This compares to a national per capita GDP of US$1,000 or approximately 8,280 yuan*. That's right, these people earn around 1/4 of the national average. What about health? From the white paper:

The life expectancy of 13 ethnic minorities is higher than the national average, which is 71.40 years, and those of seven of them are higher than the average of the Han people, which is 73.34 years.
That means 47 ethnic groups have a lower life expectancy compared to the Han. If my maths serves me correctly, these numbers imply the average life expectancy of the 55 minorities is 49.09 years**. The report concedes and influenced by historical, geographical and other conditions, the economic and social development level of western China, where the populations of ethnic minorities are more concentrated, is still low compared with the more developed eastern areas. "Some remote areas, in particular, are still pretty backward."

It pledges that the Chinese government will adhere to the scientific concept of human-oriented, all-round, coordinated, sustainable development, further explore and strengthen specific forms of implementation of the system of regional ethnic autonomy, continuously strengthen the material basis for implementation of the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and promote the all-round economic and social development of ethnic minorities and their areas.

South Africa tried a similar system. They called them homelands.

* Don't start on PPP - it's not relevant here.

** My maths for someone to check:

Total life exp. = 71.4 years
Han life exp. = 73.34 years
Han % of popl'n = 92%

So assume China's population is 100 people.

Han: 73.34 * 92 = 6747.28 Han people years
Total: 71.40 * 100 = 7140 total people years

Balance: 7140 - 6747.28 = 392.72 minority people years
Ethnic % of population = 8

Ethnic life exp = 392.72 / 8 = 49.09


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