The Constitutional Imperative of Equitably Distributing the Proceeds of Mineral Resource Extraction from China's Ethnic Minority Autonomous Areas
Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture and Natural Resources Law, Fall 2011
Posted: 3 Mar 2011 Last revised: 22 Jul 2018
Date Written: December 1, 2010
Natural resources are the fountainhead of development and prosperity. Social injustices are often associated with resource exploitation when non-renewable resources located in undeveloped areas are depleted by politically and economically dominant peoples. China is not insulated from this reality, as its 55 recognized ethnic minorities remain largely impoverished despite occupying the nation’s most resource-fertile lands. Although Beijing recommitted to developing its inland territories (including its five Ethnic Minority Autonomous Regions) with the pronouncement of the Western Development Strategy in 1999, the central authorities still suffer from a perception that the western minorities’ mineral wealth is being unjustly redistributed to the Han majorities in the eastern and central regions of the nation. To remedy this impression, improve overall social harmony and empower better governance of its specific economic development initiatives, Beijing should reform its resource tax and compensation fee structures to demonstrate a direct link between resource extraction and adequate, relevant compensation to the ethnic minorities. Doing so is an imperative under a kaleidoscope of policies codified in the Chinese Constitution, key national legislation and prominent political pronouncements. Indeed, a 2010 tax reform benefiting the Xinjiang Ethnic Minority Autonomous Region provides a promising prototype. Following this example, China’s central authorities must continue to seek direct and transparent compensation for non-renewable resources extracted from all of the Ethnic Minority Autonomous Areas.
Keywords: China, Minorities, Natural Resources, Ethnic, Autonomy
JEL Classification: N55, N5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation