Beijing targets better living standards for ethnic minorities

Beijing targets better living standards for ethnic minorities
A woman wearing ethnic minority dress attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Tiananmen Square marking the 66th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

SHANGHAI -- Away from the bustle and prosperity of big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, life in rural China is one of poverty and hardship, particularly for the country's ethnic minorities.

The northwestern province of Gansu is home to large minority populations, including ethnic Tibetans, who live primarily in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and Hui Muslims, in neighbouring Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture. Most people in the former prefecture still lead a nomadic life, while those in the latter are more dependent on farming. Poverty, however, is common to both.

Though Beijing recently vowed to eradicate areas of intense poverty by 2020, solving such a deep-rooted problem presents a daunting challenge.

Another world

On the road in Gannan's Xiahe County, an elderly woman clad in crimson suddenly threw herself on the ground, face down. This practice, a traditional manner of prayer in Tibetan Buddhism known as wutitoudi, is not a rare sight in Xiahe, where 79 per cent of the 80,000 residents are ethnic Tibetans.

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