Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, speaks at the grand gathering to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Aug. 8, 2017. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)
HOHHOT, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Tuesday lauded the achievements of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China and expressed his hope that improving ethnic autonomy would bring better life for people in the region.
Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks at a gathering to celebrate the region's 70th anniversary, while leading a 63-person delegation of the central authorities.
Yu reiterated the importance of adherence to the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) -- the solid core to unite and lead people from all ethnic groups -- and firmly sticking to socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Over the past 70 years, especially since the reform and opening up in the late 1970s, the region expanded its GDP to 1.86 trillion yuan (277.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, 642 times of that in 1947, and per capita GDP reached 74,000 yuan, 145 times of that in 1947, Yu said.
A basic transport network has been set up and incomes have improved, with more than 60 percent permanent residents living in cities, Yu said.
Yu called for releasing and developing social productivity; combining support from central authorities and economically developed provinces with the region's self-struggle; integrating improvement of living standards with ecological protection; holding the interests of the country and the Chinese nation above all; and resolutely safeguarding ethnic unity, the border and national reunification.
Yu asked local officials to make efforts to ensure that the region build a moderately prosperous society in 2020, striving to solve problems which people care the most and making people from all ethnic groups feel a sense of gain and happiness.
At the gathering, Vice Premier Liu Yandong read a congratulatory message by the CPC Central Committee, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council, the CPPCC National Committee and the Central Military Commission.0 The letter said that Inner Mongolia has been led by the CPC in combining the basic principles of Marxism with the realities of the Chinese nation, and has kept the glory of "exemplary autonomous region."
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core has paid more attention to and made strategic plans for the development of Inner Mongolia.
In 2014, Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, put forward a set of ideas on the long-term development of the region during his inspection tour in Inner Mongolia.
On Monday, Yu presented a plaque with an inscription by Xi, which reads "building a beautiful Inner Mongolia, achieving the great Chinese dream" in both Chinese and Mongolian.
Tsetsenbat, a herder from Ar Horqin Banner of Chifeng City, said that he felt great changes in his hometown: his kids were in school, the seniors were covered by social insurance, roads had improved, and they had good drinking water and Internet connection.
"We will keep in mind Xi's instructions to build a beautiful northern border, cherish the good situation of ethnic unity, and strive to build a better Inner Mongolia," he said.
Ren Yunguo, a local ethnic affairs official, said that before the founding of Inner Mongolia, people lived under impoverished conditions and many herders were bankrupt.
With efforts of poverty relief, the region will succeed in building a moderately prosperous society in 2020 at the same pace with the country, Ren said.
According to the region's statistics authority, in 2016, Inner Mongolia's per capita GDP reached 74,069 yuan, up 6.9 percent year on year. The annual per capita disposable income in the region reached 24,127 yuan, up 6.8 percent year on year.
Last year, Inner Mongolia ranked ninth in the country in terms of urban residents' per capita disposable income, which rose by 6.5 percent to reach 32,975 yuan, and 19th place in terms of rural disposable income, which rose at the same rate to reach 11,609 yuan.
Yan Qing, professor with Minzu University of China, said that until today, regional autonomy is the only correct way for the stability and prosperity in ethnic minority regions.
Wang Xien, researcher with the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Inner Mongolia has adhered to the principle of equity, unity and mutual help during 70 years of implementing regional autonomy for ethnic groups.
"It has paid high attention to guaranteeing people of all ethnic groups to share equal rights and special legitimate rights of ethnic minority groups by eliminating narrow nationalism," Wang added.