Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October 2014, 22:51 GMT

Assessment for Hui Muslims in China

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 31 December 2003
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Hui Muslims in China, 31 December 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3a681e.html [accessed 24 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
China Facts
Area:    9,596,560 sq. km.
Capital:    Beijing
Total Population:    1,237,000,000 (source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

There have not been significant protests or rebellion by the Hui in recent decades. Several indicators suggest why: there are 1) low levels of group concentration, organization and cohesion; 2) government efforts to accommodate Hui cultural interests; and 3) no significant government repression. Further, the Chinese government's efforts in developing the western provinces may contribute to improvements in the Hui economic status. The major pressure point is social and cultural discrimination, which may provoke sporadic clashes between the Hui and other ethnic groups or protests to the Chinese government. Chances of rebellion are low.

Analytic Summary

The Muslim Huis are dispersed in virtually all parts of China. Major concentrations are located in Ningxia (the location of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region), while many of them inhabit Gansu, Qinghai, Henan, Hebei, Shandong, Yunnan, and Xinjiang provinces (GROUPCON = 0). The Huis are of mixed Arabic, Persian, and Chinese descent, tracing back to the mid-seventh century, when Arab and Persian merchants came to China and settled down in Guangshou, Quanzhou, Hangahou, and Yangshou (TRADITN = 1). These merchants, virtually all men, lived in their own communities and did not intermarry with the Hans until the Mongol occupation of China (the Yuan dynasty after 1260). Though the Huis are Muslims, over centuries they have been assimilated to the Hans in appearance and language (BELIEF = 3, LANG = 1). The Huis have a distinct identity, different from the Hans mainly in their religion, clothing, and diet (avoidance of pork or other food prohibited by Islam).

The Huis experience little demographic stress (DEMSTR00 = 3) but are relatively poor compared to the Han community because of historical marginality (ECDIS00-03 = 1). They are politically underrepresented for similar reasons (POLDIS00-3 = 1). There are no substantial political organizations representing the Huis. In the past there was intragroup conflict between different Sufi sects within the Huis, but not at present (COHESX9 = 4). There have been periodic conflicts between Hui groups and the Chinese state, as well as between Huis and Hans. During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) the Huis were under systematic and sometimes violent attacks by the Hans and experienced cultural, social, and religious discrimination. Matters began to improve after 1979 when the Chinese government adopted a policy of religious toleration. The latest episode was a religious conflict from September to December 2000 in Shandong and Hebei province, following an incident at which a Han pork vendor advertised the sale of "Muslim pork." In clashes with Han, 6 Huis were killed and more than 40 injured. No incidents were reported from 2001 to 2003.

The Huis are not seeking autonomy. Their major concerns are restrictions on religious practices, economic backwardness, and environmental decline in the NHAR. These conditions have improved in recent years. In the past, owning to economic restrictions, only a few Chinese Muslims could afford to pilgrimage to Mecca. Today, more than 5,000 Chinese pilgrims visit Mecca every year. The first Islamic university in China was opened, and in Xian there is an Islamic educational system in which children start their Islamic schooling at the age of four. Their Arabic skills help them in future contact with Islamic countries both in cultural and in economic relations.

The Hui have not been involved in violence against the Chinese state in recent years. Protest levels have been consistently low, primarily verbal protests by Hui leaders (PROT01-03 = 1).

References

The Europa Yearbook, Far East and Australasia 1993.

Far Eastern Economic Review, 1990-93.

Keesings Record of World Events, 1990-93.

Lexis-Nexis Library News, 1990-2003.

Phase I, Minorities at Risk, overview compiled by Monty G. Marshall, 07/89.

U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China. 2001-2003.

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