Hate Chinese and their government hate Muslims

Muslims in the People's Republic of China Today - Parallel Societies?


Editor: Frauke Drewes

There are an estimated 20 million Muslims living in China today. This makes the VR one of the larger “Muslim” states. Nevertheless, this population group receives little international attention, which is on the one hand due to the proportions - 20 million in China mean less than 2 percent of the population, but on the other hand also the difficult accessibility of the topic. The Muslims play a disproportionately important role for the Chinese state.

A distinction must be made between the two largest of the 10 state-designated Muslim "nationalities". The Hui Chinese are the largest of these nationalities at around 10 million. They are also considered to be the Chinese Muslims in China, as they hardly differ linguistically and culturally from the majority society. This nationality, which is widely scattered across the country, receives significant support from the Chinese government. On the one hand, this is related to the general policy of supporting the minorities in order to make it easier for them to rise from their often socially and economically disadvantaged position. On the other hand, external economic factors also play a role here, since the Chinese Muslims can also offer support for establishing and maintaining international relations, especially with a view to the Arab oil states, which are extremely important in terms of energy policy. On the other hand is the second largest Muslim nationality, the Uighurs. Due to their geographical concentration in the northwestern province of Xinjiang and their affiliation with the Central Asian Turkic peoples, an increased risk of separatism is assumed. This leads to sometimes considerable restrictions and tensions between the various ethnic groups in Xinjiang, as became clear during the unrest in 2009.

The doctoral project examines the social position of Muslims, especially the Hui Chinese, in the VR since the 1990s. Measures and facts for their integration into the majority society are used as well as personal assessments of Muslims and non-Muslims. The relationships between the various Muslim nationalities are also considered. Finally, an assessment should be made of whether Islam as a religion favors a special position for Muslims in China - in a positive or negative sense - or is irrelevant for this. A central question is to what extent political goals and strategies of various actors are linked to Islam and how this in turn changes social structures. Temporary, regional and ethnic differences in particular are highlighted here.