Over the past 60 years, China's Central Government and local governments in Xinjiang have made tremendous efforts to protect equal political rights and social status for each and all of Xinjiang's peoples, and achieve their common development and prosperity. Before the founding of the PRC in 1949, there were still remnants of feudal serfdom in some areas of southern Xinjiang, and in certain individual areas serfdom was even found intact. In the 1950s, democratic reform was carried out in Xinjiang. The abolishment of the old system enabled minority peoples to enjoy basic human rights, with their rights to participate in the administration of state affairs under special protection. In the previous terms of National People's Congress (NPC), deputies were selected from minority communities in Xinjiang for proportional representation. All 60 deputies in the Xinjiang delegation to the 11th National People's Congress came from 11 ethnic groups, and 60% of them were ethnic minorities. At present, some members of the NPC Standing Committee and the leadership of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are from Xinjiang's minority ethnic groups. In the local people's congresses of Xinjiang, there are deputies from each ethnic group who live in compact communities. In the Ninth People's Congress of the autonomous region, the 542 deputies were comprised of 13 ethnicities, and the proportion of minority deputies accounted for 65.5%, 4 percentage points higher than the ratio of the minority population to the total population of the region.
In Xinjiang, political equality for the various ethnic groups is realized mainly through the system of ethnic regional autonomy. Under the unified leadership of the state, implementing ethnic regional autonomy in place where ethnic minorities live in compact communities to allow them to manage their own internal affairs is a basic policy for China to resolve ethnic problems; it is also an important political system of China. Founded in 1955, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is an ethnic autonomous area with the Uygurs as the principal body of the local population. Within the territory of the autonomous region, there also exist areas where other minorities live in compact communities. Thus, five autonomous prefectures for four ethnic groups—the Kazak, Hui, Kirgiz and Mongolian—have been established, in addition to six autonomous counties for five ethnic groups—the Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Tajik and Xibe, and 43 ethnic townships. Xinjiang is the country's only autonomous region with autonomous areas at all three administrative levels (region, prefecture and county). When it comes to the composition of deputies to the people's congresses and the appointment of cadres, the region's autonomous organs at each level have adhered to the principles of equal participation and common management, so as to ensure that all peoples become masters of the country. In light of actual conditions, these organs shall formulate and implement autonomous laws, local laws, and decisions of legal force, to safeguard their rights of autonomy in accordance with the law. By the end of 2008, the people's congress of the autonomous region and its standing committee had altogether enacted 127 local laws and regulations, and approved 28 statutory resolutions and decisions, and approved 100 local laws and regulations formulated by Urumqi City and the governments of the various autonomous prefectures and counties.
The state and the autonomous region have always considered the selection, training and employment of cadres from among ethnic minorities to be a key to carrying out the policy of ethnic regional autonomy. A large number of outstanding cadres of minority origin have been trained and fostered by being sent out for study, receiving training, working at the grassroots level, or at different places through job exchanges or on rotation basis. In this way, the numbers of cadres have increased, their overall quality improved, ensuring corresponding percentages of such cadres at various levels and categories. The number of Xinjiang's cadres from minority ethnic groups was 46,000 in 1955, 67,000 in 1965, 93,000 in 1975, 202,000 in 1985, 272,000 in 1995, 340,000 in 2005 and 363,000 in 2008. The last figure accounts for 51.25% of the total number of cadres in Xinjiang. In today's Xinjiang, the heads of the autonomous region, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties, as well as the heads of the standing committees of local people's congresses, the presidents of the people's courts and the procurator-generals of the people's procuratorates at corresponding levels are citizens from the ethnic group(s) exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned. An overwhelming number of the heads at the prefecture and city levels are citizens of ethnic minority origin.
The government of the autonomous region has adopted a variety of special policies and measures to implement and protect all its peoples' equal rights in political and social life. Promulgated in 1993 and revised in 2002, "Regulations for Work Concerning Spoken and Written Languages in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region" enshrines in legal form the equal rights of all peoples in terms of their own spoken and written languages, encouraging people to study the spoken and written languages of other ethnic groups. Enacted in 1996, "Measure Concerning Implementation of the PRC Law on Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region" stipulates that all commodities produced and sold in the autonomous region should have both the relevant minority and Han Chinese languages written on their packaging and users' manuals; that business operators who have the Muslim phrase "halal" (qingzhen) or its symbol visible on their business premises or on food packaging or labeling, should be approved by ethnic affairs administrative departments of the people's government above the county level.
The state adheres to the principle that the spoken and written languages of all peoples are equal, and opposes linguistic privilege in any form. In light of actual conditions in Xinjiang, the government of the autonomous region promulgated, respectively in 1988 and 1993, "Provisional Regulations of Administration for the Use of Minority Languages in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region" and "Regulations for Work Concerning Spoken and Written Languages in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region," which legally enshrine the freedom and rights of ethnic minorities to use their own spoken and written languages. Now, Xinjiang has 13 ethnic groups inhabiting there for generations and using 10 spoken and written languages. The government organs of the autonomous region, prefectures and counties, in handling public affairs, use the language of the ethnic group exercising autonomy in that particular area as well as the Chinese language. Spoken and written languages of the minority peoples are widely used in news, publishing, radio, movies, and television programs. The Xinjiang Daily newspaper is printed in Uygur, Han, Kazak and Mongolian languages, while the Xinjiang Television Station broadcasts its programs in the same four languages. The Xinjiang People's Publishing House uses the above four languages plus the Kirgiz and Xibe languages for its publications. Over 70% of books and audiovisual products published in Xinjiang use minority languages.