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New thinking brings success to Miao people

DATELINE: guiyang, september 3, 1999

The Miao ethnic minority people in southwest china's guizhou province are ridding themselves of the outdated notion that "one ought not leave their hometown no matter how poor," and many of them are now earning a good living in other places. the miao people of the miao-dong qiandongnan autonomous prefecture once dared not make friends with the han people because they had been ill-treated by the kuomintang troops before the founding of new china in 1949. they were forced to give up their folk costumes and their own language, and the kuomintang soldiers would cut short the hair of the miao women. but now it is a common sight to see miao people intermarry with other ethnic groups, and some families are made up of three or four different ethnic groups. the central government has also provided opportunities for ethnic minorities to become better trained. over 1,300 miao officials in the province had been sent to colleges by the year 1956 when the prefecture was established. and now, one-third of all prefecture officials, or more than 20, 000, are miaos. miao people used to think that they could only survive by farming, even though 80 percent of them could not even feed themselves by just working on the farm before the founding of new china. now, however, the 1.57 million miao people in the prefecture no longer worry about how they will eat tomorrow, as more and more miaos have left their hometowns to enter business elsewhere since the implementation of the opening-up and reform policies two decades ago.