Content uploaded by Jörg Friedrichs
All content in this area was uploaded by Jörg Friedrichs on Oct 04, 2017
Content may be subject to copyright.
Sino-Muslim Relations: The Han, the Hui, and the Uyghurs
Jörg Friedrichs, University of Oxford
Has been published by Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Volume 37, Number 1, 2017.
Published version http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13602004.2017.1294373
This pre-print version is very similar to, though not identical with, the published version.
Thanks to Nathan Brown, Michael Dillon, Matthew Erie, John Gledhill, Henrietta Harrison,
Kevin Fogg, Rinku Lamba, James Leibold, and Iver Neumann for helpful suggestions and
comments. Valuable research assistance by Xian Guan is gratefully acknowledged.
Sino-Muslim relations rest upon an informal socio-spatial hierarchy according to which some
Muslim groups are more of an asset and others more of a liability. In this informal hierarchy,
Hui Muslims are closer to the center than any other Muslim group because they are Sinicized,
seen as religiously moderate, and mostly live in proximity to non-Muslim Chinese neighbors.
Central Asian Muslims, most notably Xinjiang’s Uyghurs, are more distant from China’s no-
tional center and seen as culturally more alien and prone to religious extremism. The article
discusses the historical roots of this socio-spatial hierarchy and systematically examines Si-
no-Muslim relations in political, economic, and societal terms. It concludes that, despite some
problematic features from a western-liberal perspective, the hierarchy continues to enable the
Chinese majority to manage a set of otherwise challenging relationships.
China; Muslims; Uyghurs; Hui; Xinjiang; Ningxia
Dr. Jörg Friedrichs, Associate Professor of Politics
Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House
3 Mansfield Road
Oxford OX1 3TB
Chinese Xinjiang is one of only five significant territories in Asia where non-Muslims rule
over a Muslim majority. After the secession of the so-called “Stans” from the former Soviet
Union, the remaining four cases are Israel ruling over Palestine, India ruling over Kashmir,
and Russia ruling over the North Caucasus as well as Tatarstan. Despite notorious problems,
Xinjiang compares favourably to these situations with the partial exception of Tatarstan. The
same applies when considering smaller territories such as the Philippines ruling over South-
ern Mindanao, Burma ruling over Rakhine State, and Thailand ruling over its Southern Bor-
der Provinces. It appears that maintaining political stability in an area like Xinjiang is genu-
inely difficult. Hence, western criticism of China’s Xinjiang policy seems partly unfair.
Whether one likes it or not, China appears to be reasonably successful in keeping control of a
Muslim majority region when compared to other countries in a comparable situation.
In doing so, China can rely on an ancient Han- or Sinocentric tradition of rule over minorities.
The main modality of rule has been the ethnocentric allocation of status and privilege to dif-
ferent groups depending on their degree of docility and acculturation. This has led to an in-
formal socio-spatial hierarchy. In that hierarchy, so-called Hui Muslims are closer to the cen-
ter than any other Muslim group. They are Sinicized, seen as religiously moderate, and most
of them live in physical proximity to non-Muslim Chinese neighbors. Muslims of Central
Asian extraction, such as the Turkic Uyghurs, live further away from the Chinese heartland
and are considered culturally more alien and prone to religious extremism.
The most common name of China, zhongguo or zhonghua, contains the notion of “central” or
“middle” (zhong, 中). Ancient Chinese cosmography, dating from about the sixth century BC,
represented the world as five “concentric geographical zones emanating outward from the
capital: royal domains, princely domains, a pacification zone, the zone of allied barbarians,
and the zone of savagery.”1The tributary system of later dynasties, such as the Ming and ear-
ly Qing (ca. 1368–1841), was a similar attempt to maintain a Sinocentric “social hierarchy
defined in cultural and civilizational terms”, with the Middle Kingdom located at the center
and surrounded by multiple layers of “inner” and “outer” barbarians.2Centuries later, schol-
ars working in China continue to find concentric and multi-layered “ethnogeographies” of
cultural proximity and distance, this time with the urban Han Chinese at the apex, or core.3
Related to this, China looks back to an old imperial tradition of controlling peripheral peoples
through resettlement and other stratagems, and notably the classical frontier tactic of yiyi
zhiyi (以夷制夷), or “using barbarians to control barbarians.”4The fulcrum of this doctrine,
1Richard J. Smith, Chinese Maps: Images of "All Under Heaven" (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1996),
23-24. This goes back to a passage in the Book of Documents, one of the five classics of ancient Chinese litera-
ture. See James Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 3 (Hongkong and London: Trübner & Co., 1865), 142-149.
2Zhang Yongjin and Barry Buzan, "The tributary system as international society in theory and practice,"
Chinese Journal of International Politics 5, no. 1 (2012): 3-36, 14-15.
3Stevan Harrell, ed. Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers (Seattle: University of Washington Press,
1995); Susan D. Blum, Portraits of "Primitives": Ordering Human Kinds in the Chinese Nation (Lanham:
Rowman & Littlefield, 2001); Susan K. McCarthy, Communist Multiculturalism: Ethnic Revival in Southwest
China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009).
4I-tien Hsing, "Handai de yiyizhiyilun (The theory of ‘using barbarians to control barbarians’ in the Han
Dynasty)," Shiyuan (Journal of Historical Review) 5, no. 2 (1974): 9-53. Compare the western imperial maxim
of “divide and rule.” The Romans tried to rely on the Huns to control the Goths, the Belgians on the Tutsi to
control the Hutu, the British on Indian Muslims to control the Hindus, and so on.
which can be traced all the way to the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and further back, is to
rely on more acculturated groups of barbarians in order to defeat or hold in check the more
savage barbarians from the outer steppe, thus surrounding the Middle Kingdom with concen-
tric circles of progressively less civilized ethnicities. While it seems unlikely that, today, Bei-
jing is still pursuing yiyi zhiyi as a conscious strategy, this article shows that the related impe-
rial legacy of a socio-spatial hierarchy of minority groups continues in various guises.
In the case of China’s Muslim minorities, those falling at the lower end of the socio-spatial
hierarchy defined by the Han majority (91.6 percent of Chinese citizens according to the
2010 census) understandably resent the hierarchy. Regardless, the hierarchy enables the Chi-
nese state and Han majority to manage China’s Muslim minorities by a mild form of divide
and rule. The ancestral legacy of a socio-spatial hierarchy makes this possible even today,
keeping the Hui apart from Central Asian Muslims and deepening the divisions between dif-
ferent groups of Central Asian Muslims such as the Uyghurs and the Kazaks.
The first section provides a concise demographic and historical overview of China’s Muslim
minorities, justifying my analytical focus on relations between the Han, the Hui, and the Uy-
ghurs. The subsequent three sections systematically examine the quality and management of
Sino-Muslim relations in political, economic, and societal terms. Where does all of this lead
us? The concluding section presents some thoughts on this, in concrete political terms.
China and its Muslims
According to the 2010 population census, China is home to 23.14 million Muslims, amount-
ing to 1.74 percent of China’s population of 1.33 billion. The largest group is the Sinicized
Hui, with about 10.5 million people. The Hui are an ancient Muslim diaspora who, apart from
their religion, have become acculturated to the Chinese population surrounding them. The
highest concentrations of Hui Muslims live in China’s northwest and southwest – notably in
Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai, and Yunnan. The Turkic Uyghurs are of almost equal number, with
about 10 million. Unlike the Hui who are spread over most of China and speak the same lan-
guage as their non-Muslim neighbors, the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs have a clear demograph-
ic concentration and homeland in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.
In addition to the Hui and the Uyghurs, China is home to eight smaller Muslim minorities. In
descending order of population size, they are the Kazak, Dongxiang, Kyrgyz, Salar, Tajik,
Uzbek, Bonan, and Tatar. All of these groups are of small numbers compared to the Hui and
the Uyghurs. The third largest group, the Kazaks, are another Turkic-speaking Muslim mi-
nority rooted in Central Asia, and, like the Uyghurs, they mostly reside in Xinjiang. They
amount for 6.3 percent of China’s Muslims. The fourth largest group, the Dongxiang, are of
Mongolian descent and mostly live in Gansu. They amount to 2.7 percent of China’s Muslims.
The remaining six minorities amount for as little as 1.7 percent of China’s Muslims altogeth-
er. Doctrinally, almost all Chinese Muslims belong to the Sunni denomination of Islam, in-
cluding Central Asian Sufi traditions. This article focuses on the Hui and the Uyghurs given
that, together, they account for almost 90 percent of Chinese Muslims (Table 1).5
5For essential background on China’s Muslims, see Michael Dillon, China's Muslims (Hong Kong: Oxford
University Press, 1996). On the Hui versus the Uyghurs, see Dru C. Gladney, "Islam in China: accommodation
or separatism?," China Quarterly 174(2003): 451-467; Dru C. Gladney, "Islam in China: state policing and
identity politics," in Making Religion, Making the State, ed. Yoshiko Ashiwa and David L. Wank (Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press: 2009), 151-178. See also How Man Wong and Adel Awni Dajani, Islamic Frontiers
of China: Peoples of the Silk Road (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011); Joanne Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic
Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in Contemporary Xinjiang (Leiden: Brill, 2013). Spe-
Population size Share of Chinese Muslims (%)
Hui 10,586,087 45.7
Uyghurs 10,069,346 43.5
Kazaks 1,462,588 6.3
Dongxiang 621,500 2.7
All others 402,583 1.7
Total 23,142,104 100.0
Table 1: Absolute and relative size of China’s Muslim minorities.6
Xinjiang and Ningxia
China has two autonomous Muslim regions: the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, cre-
ated in 1955, and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, created in 1958. In terms of territori-
al administration, Xinjiang and Ningxia are at the provincial level and fall into a group with
three other autonomous regions: Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Guangxi.7
In Xinjiang, the Uyghurs are the largest ethnic group, with 47 percent. The next largest group
are the Han, with 38 percent. The remaining 15 percent is made up from twelve smaller mi-
norities, most of which are Muslim (7 percent Kazaks, 4.6 percent Hui, etc.). While the capi-
cifically on the Kazaks, see Linda Benson and Ingvar Svanberg, China's Last Nomads: The History and Culture
of China's Kazaks (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998).
6Calculations based on National Bureau of Statistics of China, Tabulation on the 2010 Population Census of the
People's Republic of China (Beijing: China Statistics Press, 2013), Part I, Table 2-1.
7China has many other autonomous units at lower administrative levels, such as the Ili Kazak Autonomous Pre-
fecture in Xinjiang and the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu.
tal city, Urumqi, is 73 percent Han, most of the southern oases8are predominantly populated
by Uyghurs as for example Kashgar city, where 84 percent of the population is Uyghur.9
In Ningxia, the majority is Han, with 64 percent. Hui Muslims are the only significant mi-
nority, with 36 percent. Especially in central and southern Ningxia, the Hui are the majority
in several cities and counties.10 Ningxia is much smaller in terms of territory and population
than Xinjiang, but the availability of statistical data for both regions invites comparison.
The autonomy of China’s autonomous regions is severely limited, at least when compared to
the constituent republics of the former Soviet Union. The latter had a last-resort right to se-
cession and made use of that right in the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union fell apart. In
China, by contrast, the integrity of the national territory is seen as sacrosanct. Accordingly,
China’s autonomous regions were created with no constitutional right of secession, and Bei-
jing continues to hold a tight grip over the degree of their autonomy—especially in the case
of Xinjiang.11 The creation of an independent “Uyghurstan” would be unacceptable to Chi-
na.12 Maintaining control over Xinjiang is important for Beijing because, despite its small
population, Xinjiang covers more than one sixth of China’s territory (1,660,000 km2). In ad-
dition to its geostrategic significance, Xinjiang boasts important mineral resources.
8The central part of Xinjiang is an enormous desert, the Taklamakan, surrounded by oases.
9Statistics Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang tongji nianjian (Xinjiang Statistical
Yearbook) (Beijing: China Statistics Press, 2014), Tables 3-7 and 3-8.
10 Statistics Bureau of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Ningxia tongji nianjian (Ningxia Statistical Yearbook)
(Beijing: China Statistics Press, 2014), Tables 4-3 and 4-9.
11 Gardner Bovingdon, The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land (New York: Columbia University Press,
12 Eric Hyer, "China's policy towards Uighur nationalism," Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 26, no. 1 (2006):
The informal socio-spatial hierarchy of China’s Muslim minorities is the result of three ele-
ments: (1) ancient Sinocentric worldviews of the Middle Kingdom being surrounded by lay-
ers of gradually more ferocious and less acculturated barbarians; (2) the legacy of imperial
practices such as “using barbarians to control barbarians;” and (3) the specific ways history
and especially rebellions have occurred and are remembered, with the Hui construed as more
docile in comparison to the more rebellious Turkic Muslims—notably the Uyghurs. Having
introduced the first two elements in the introduction, let me now deal with the third.
Historically, Muslims have lived in China for a very long time. The first Muslim traders
reached the Middle Kingdom via the Silk Road and as seafaring merchants during the Tang
dynasty (618-907 AD). Another important wave occurred under the Yuan (1271-1368) when
Mongol overlords relied on troops from Central Asia. Later, during the Qing (1644-1911),
vast territories populated by Central Asian Muslims were incorporated into the Empire.13
Despite considerable variation on the degree of their acculturation, the people today classified
as Hui are essentially Chinese-speaking practitioners of Islam. Having always been a vulner-
13 Jonathan N. Lipman, Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China (Seattle: University of
Washington Press, 1997); Michael Dillon, China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects
(Richmond, UK: Curzon, 1999); Fan Ke, "Maritime Muslims and Hui identity: a south Fujian case," Journal of
Muslim Minority Affairs 21, no. 2 (2001): 309-332; Fan Ke, "Ups and downs: local Muslim history in South
China," Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 23, no. 1 (2003): 63-87; James A. Millward, Eurasian Crossroads:
A History of Xinjiang (London: Hurst, 2007).
able religious diaspora surrounded by hegemonic Chinese culture and subject to non-Muslim
rule, the Hui represent a remarkable adaptation of Islam to Chinese circumstances.14
Over the first 1,000 years or so after reaching China from the Middle East and Central Asia,
most Muslims lost their vernacular languages and cultural traits, as it would have been im-
possible for them to maintain regular links with their distant areas of origin. Gradually, their
progeny lost their ethnic traits through intermarriage with local women.15 Religious conver-
sion may have played a (probably limited) role. Today, the descendants of China’s accultur-
ated Muslims are known as the Hui although some prefer the term “Sino-Muslims.”16
Until the republican era, under the Kuomintang, the term Hui denoted any Muslim regardless
of ethnicity, but the communist regime broke with that tradition. Since the mid-1950s, the
Hui have been classified not as a religious group but as one of China’s 55 ethnic minority
groups (minzu), alongside other Muslim and non-Muslim minorities such as the Uyghurs, Ti-
betans, and Koreans. The ethnonym Hui is problematic because it deemphasizes Islam and
inserts an ethnic element into an otherwise religious identity, despite the fact that most Hui
are ethnically indistinguishable from the Han. Yet the category has stuck.17
14 Dru C. Gladney, Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA:
Cambridge University Press, 1996); Dru C. Gladney, Dislocating China: Reflections on Muslims, Minorities,
and Other Subaltern Subjects (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).
15 Gladney, "Islam in China: accommodation or separatism?," 464; Gladney, "Islam in China: state policing and
identity politics," 160.
16 Lipman, Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China.
17 Gladney, Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic.
Centuries before their official classification as Hui, interactions with the political establish-
ment and its cultured elites had already left their imprint on China’s Sinicized Muslims. This
is exemplified by a collection of writings from the early 18th century called the Han Kitab.18
A significant part of that body of literature portrays Islam apologetically as compatible with
Confucian principles of social order and political doctrine.19 Especially Liu Zhi, the most fa-
mous writer of the Han Kitab, emphasized allegiance to Confucian hierarchy, including loy-
alty to the Emperor, as the duty of any good Muslim, while deemphasizing notions that might
have challenged Confucian hierarchy and loyalty, such as jihad or allegiance to the ummah.20
This was the beginning of a lasting tradition of trying to present Islam in ways compatible
with China’s ruling ideology—Confucian first, republican later, then communist.21
The Hui are Chinese and Muslim at the same time, and this obliges them to constantly nego-
tiate the tension between their twin belongings.22 It is debatable whether and to what extent
the history of so-called “Hui rebellions” is an aspect of this negotiation. On the one hand, his-
torians argue that revolts, such as those during the transition from the Ming to the Qing dyn-
asty, ca. 1570-1650, “were prompted by economic distress rather than by religious or ethnic
18 Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, The Dao of Muhammad: A Cultural History of Muslims in Late Imperial China
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2005).
19 Lipman, Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China, 72-85.
20 James D. Frankel, Rectifying God's Name: Liu Zhi's Confucian Translation of Monotheism and Islamic Law
(Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011).
21 Jonathan Lipman, Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the 17h to the 21st
Century (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016); Roberta Tontoni, Muslim Sanzijing: Shifts and
Continuities in the Definition of Islam in China (Leiden: Brill, 2016).
22 James D. Frankel, "Chinese-Islamic connections: an historical and contemporary overview," Journal of
Muslim Minority Affairs 36, no. 4 (2016): 569-583, at 573.
discrimination”.23 On the other hand, contemporary observers and modern commentators
have often seen these and similar revolts as a sign of Muslim disloyalty. This could have se-
rious consequences for the rebels in case of defeat. For example, after uprisings in the second
half of the nineteenth century, many Sino-Muslims were displaced westwards from their
erstwhile core in Shaanxi, with some of them migrating as far as the Russian Empire.24
There are many alleged instances of Hui disloyalty. Hui communities were often forced to
take sides in power struggles, sometimes with deleterious consequences. For example, there
are bitter memories of Hui uprisings and their suppression during the republican era. The
suppression of a Muslim uprising in Shaanxi is still remembered by the progeny of the vic-
tims.25 During the Civil War, the Hui communities of Qinghai and Gansu were staunchly an-
ticommunist and, as a consequence, their loyalty is seen as doubtful to the present day.26 Re-
portedly, the last attempt by Hui to erect a Muslim emirate was defeated as late as 1958.27
23 Morris Rossabi, "Muslim and Central Asian revolts," in From Ming to Ch'ing: Conquest, Region, and
Continuity in Seventeenth Century China, ed. Jonathan D. Spence and John E. Wills (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1979), 167-199.
24 Svetlana Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, Soviet Dungans in 1985: Birthdays, Weddings, Funerals and Kolkhoz Life
(Taipei: Center for Chinese Studies, 1991).
25 Maris Gillette, "Violence, the state, and a Chinese Muslim ritual remembrance," Journal of Asian Studies 67,
no. 3 (2008): 1011-1037.
26 Susette Cooke, "Surviving state and society in Northwest China: the Hui experience in Qinghai Province
under the PRC," Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 28, no. 3 (2008): 401-420.
27 Raphael Israeli, Islam in China: Religion, Ethnicity, Culture, and Politics (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books,
2002), 199. On a similar attempt by Uyghurs in the mid-1950s, see Michael Dillon, Xinjiang: China's Muslim
Far Northwest (London: Routledge, 2004), 52-55.
The Uyghurs offer a remarkable contrast. Most Muslims of Xinjiang are of Turkic stock and
came into the fold of the Empire only with the Qing expansion of the eighteenth century.
Like other Turkic minorities in Xinjiang such as the Kazaks and the Kirgiz, the Uyghurs have
jealously guarded their linguistic and cultural traits of distinction from the Han, as well as
Sinicized Muslims such as the Hui. They have gained notoriety for their recalcitrance.
Especially during the Empire’s period of weakness in the nineteenth century and the turmoil
of the republican era in the first half of the twentieth century, there were numerous uprisings
in Xinjiang. Islamist and jihadist elements were quite prominent during the reign of the Tur-
kic usurper Yaqub Beg during the 1860s and 1870s and under the ill-fated Turkic Islamic
Republic of Eastern Turkestan (TIRET), lasting from 1933 to 1934. Another East Turkestan
Republic (ETR), which was backed by the Soviet Union and lasted from 1944 to 1949, was
less overtly religious than its predecessors.28 Today, Uyghur religious nationalists ritualisti-
cally remember all of these uprisings, and especially the two East Turkestan republics.
If Hui loyalty to China is sometimes questioned, Uyghur disloyalty is mostly taken for grant-
ed. The general view is that the Hui rebellions, despite their violent character, mostly repre-
sented local power struggles rather than head-on collisions with imperial authority.29 The
28 Andrew D. W. Forbes, Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republican
Sinkiang 1911-1949 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); Linda Benson, The Ili Rebellion: The
Moslem Challenge to Chinese Authority in Xingjiang, 1944-1949 (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1990); Hodong
Kim, Holy War in China: The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia, 1864-1877 (Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press, 2004).
29 Lipman, Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China.
Turkic insurgencies in Xinjiang, by contrast, are seen as radically opposed to Chinese rule.
Although the Hui were at least as often engaged in uprisings as the Uyghurs, conventional
wisdom has it that Uyghur uprisings were more likely to have a religious element.
In the Uyghur case, history is habitually invoked to make sense of ongoing intercommunal
problems. In the case of the Hui, by contrast, both sides tend to deemphasize a seditious past
and emphasize the loyalty of the Hui to China and the Chinese Communist Party. It bears
emphasis that, occasionally, the religious element in Hui uprisings was rather pronounced,
most notably in an insurgency that took place in Yunnan and lasted from 1856 to 1873, cul-
minating in the attempt of the rebels to erect a separate Muslim state under “Sultan Sulei-
man.”30 Regardless, the confrontational aspects in the history of Han-Uyghur relations are
remembered far more vividly than those in the history of Han-Hui relations.
Legacies of the past
All of this amounts to a socio-spatial hierarchy in which the Hui are regarded as closer to the
Han civilizational center than the Uyghurs. Following a similar logic, distinctions are made
between sub-sections of either minority. Despite an emphasis on Hui loyalty across the board,
there remains a residual awareness of the rebellious history of the Hui in the northwest. The
urban Hui of China’s coastal region are seen as most acculturated and thus closest to the Han
civilizational core, followed by the religiously more traditionalist Hui of Ningxia in the west,
followed by the previously rebellious Hui of Qinghai province. Similarly, Uyghurs from re-
30 David G. Atwill, The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China,
1856-1873 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005).
mote oases in southwestern Xinjiang are seen as more rebellious and culturally more alien
than Uyghurs from the more accessible northeast of the same region.31
Such distinctions are deeply anchored in Chinese collective consciousness and based on an
old history. They remain discernible as a Han-centric socio-spatial hierarchy radiating out
from the old imperial heartland of the east and southeast to the multiethnic provinces and re-
gions in the west and northwest. As one scholar puts it: “The popular conception among for-
eign observers is that Xinjiang is tightly controlled, and ‘inner China’ is more loosely gov-
erned; in reality, however, there is a gradation. While Xinjiang remains much more strictly
controlled than elsewhere in Northwest China, affairs in Gansu and Qinghai, including eco-
nomic matters, are also subject to considerable oversight by the government.”32
Through the erstwhile imperial strategy of “using barbarians to control barbarians,” such
practices have also left their mark on Uyghur-Hui relations. Under the Qing and during the
subsequent warlord period, the unstable borderland of Xinjiang was deliberately garrisoned
with Sino-Muslims, now called Hui, to control and repress Central Asian Muslim populations
such as the Uyghurs.33 Sino-Muslims were used to control Turkic Muslims such as the Uy-
ghurs, and this has led to enduring animosities between the communities. As late as the 1930s,
31 Justin Jon Rudelson, Oasis Identities: Uyghur Nationalism Along China's Silk Road (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1997); Ildikó Bellér-Hann, "The “Gateway to the Western Regions”: state-society relations
and differentiating Uighur marginality in China’s northwest," ed. Zsombor Rajkai and Ildikó Bellér-Hann
(Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012), 203-222.
32 Matthew S. Erie, China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (New York: Cambridge University
Press, 2016), 268.
33 Kim, Holy War in China: The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia, 1864-1877.
the Kuomintang used Hui militias as proxies to suppress the East Turkestan Republic.34 In the
twenty-first century, Turkic Muslims continue to see the Hui as civilizational agents, or prox-
ies, of the Han. As Lipman puts it, Turkic Muslims view the Hui “as ‘them’ by culture and
language rather than ‘us’ by religion.”35 The Muslim Kazaks also play a role as strategic al-
lies of the Chinese state in its quest to restrain and control Xinjiang’s Uyghurs.36
Let me end this section on a quick terminological note. Despite an official discourse that ei-
ther trivializes Muslim identity as ethnic or paints an undifferentiated picture of religious rad-
icalism and Islamic extremism, religion and ethnicity are hardly separable among China’s
Muslims. Central Asian minorities such as the Uyghurs and the Kazaks have for a long time
defined themselves vis-à-vis the Chinese state and society by their religion as much as by
their ethnicity. Uyghur mobilization is therefore best characterized as “religious nationalist”
or “ethnoreligious.”37 Although for somewhat different reasons, the same applies to the Hui
who are distinguished from their typically Han neighbors primarily by their Muslim religion
but whom the Chinese state chose to classify as an ethnic group in the 1950s.38
34 Forbes, Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republican Sinkiang 1911-
35 Jonathan N. Lipman, "White hats, oil cakes, and common blood: the Hui in the contemporary Chinese state,"
in Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers, ed. Morris Rossabi (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004),
36 Benson and Svanberg, China's Last Nomads: The History and Culture of China's Kazaks.
37 Peter van der Veer, "Nationalism and religion," in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism, ed.
John Breuilli (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 655-671.
38 Colin Mackerras, "Some issues of ethnic and religious identity among China's Islamic peoples," Asian
Ethnicity 6, no. 1 (2005): 3-18; Gladney, Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic;
Gladney, "Islam in China: state policing and identity politics."
In line with the socio-spatial hierarchy, the Chinese state applies a bespoke mix of controls,
preferential policies, and negative sanctions to the Hui and the Uyghurs. As we will see, the
balance of preferential policies and negative sanctions clearly favors the Hui. Nevertheless,
both cases depart from a common template. Let us discuss the template first, and then assess
the systematic variation between the specific policies applied to either group.
In terms of controls, Beijing tries to manage Muslim activities by placing them under the um-
brella of a “patriotic religious association,” the China Islamic Association. The Islamic Asso-
ciation is an official state-directed apex body, headquartered in Beijing. Among its duties, it
includes missions such as to “support the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership”, “adapt Is-
lam to socialist society”, “hold high the banner of patriotism, unity, and progress”, “refute the
fallacies of religious extremism”, “establish and improve the internal management rules and
regulations of Islam”, and “train Islamic teaching personnel”. Crucially, the Islamic Associa-
tion is mandated to “strengthen the organization of the pilgrimage” to Mecca (hajj) and over-
sees the education, certification, and professional practices of Muslim clerics.39
Every aspirant imam needs to pass an interview conducted by a branch of the Islamic Associ-
ation. Most graduates from an officially approved seminary can proceed straight to the inter-
view, without exam. They can take this shortcut because the curriculum of their seminary was
established by the Islamic Association, and faculty members are government employees.
39 Translated from “Zhongguo yisilanjiaoxiehui zhangcheng (Charter of the China Islamic Association),” pub-
lished in Zhongguo musilin (Chinese Muslim) 193, n. 5 (2011): 24-26 and reproduced on the IAC website,
Those who have received their education from another entity such as a registered mosque,
must pass a written exam in addition to the interview. Either way, Muslim clerics remain sub-
ject to the authority of the China Islamic Association, together with the local Bureau of the
State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) and Party organs such as the United Front
Work Department (UFWD, an organ of the Communist Party’s central committee).40
Such controls are supplemented by preferential policies. Muslims and other minority groups
have been exempt from the one-child policy. Minority people have been free to have at least
two children (more than two in rural areas), and they benefit from easier access to universi-
ties.41 There are other policies of affirmative action, such as minority quotas for employment
in the public sector. Preferential policies, in turn, are counterbalanced by negative sanctions
such as the suppression of “illegal religious activities”. To provide another example, mem-
bers of the Chinese Communist Party are not allowed to openly practice religion.42
Participation in the hajj to Mecca is a good indicator for assessing the balance of preferential
policies as opposed to negative sanctions for different Muslim communities. Chinese authori-
ties are notoriously wary of cultural and religious influences from the Middle East, and espe-
cially from Saudi Arabia, which is why they tightly control participation in the hajj. On the
40 Chris Hann, "Laiklik and legitimation in rural eastern Xinjiang," in Varieties of Secularism in Asia:
Anthropological Explorations in Religion, Politics and the Spiritual, ed. Nils Bubandt and Martin van Beek
(London: Routledge, 2012), 121-241; Erie, China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law, 81-81, 187, 311-
41 Reza Hasmath, "The education of ethnic minorities in Beijing," Ethnic and Racial Studies 34, no. 11 (2011):
42 In Chinese constitutional doctrine and political practice, religious freedom is largely understood as the free-
dom of non-religious people from religious indoctrination. See Chinese Constitution, Art. 36; Beatrice Leung,
"China's religious freedom policy: the art of managing religious activity," China Quarterly 184(2005): 894-913.
one hand, pilgrimage numbers have been increasing ever since the late 1970s. On the other
hand, there have been occasional backlashes against the hajj, as happened in 1990 when Uy-
ghur exiles where seen as “subverting” pilgrims from Xinjiang, and again in 1996 when there
were official complaints that pilgrims had returned to China “dressed like Arabs.”43
According to a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in the
autumn of 2012 approximately 13,800 Muslims from China participated in the hajj, “flown
on 41 specially arranged Hajj charter flights, although this number included Islamic Associa-
tion and security officials sent to monitor Muslim citizens and prevent unauthorized pilgrim-
ages. Uighur Muslims separately reported difficulties taking part in state-sanctioned Hajj
travel due to the inability to obtain travel documents in a timely manner, difficulties in meet-
ing criteria required for participation in the official Hajj program run by the China Islamic
Association, and quotas on the number of travelers from the country imposed by Saudi Ara-
bia. The government took measures to limit the ability of Uighur Muslims to make private
Hajj pilgrimages outside of the government-organized program.”44
In 2015, there were 14,528 participants on the Chinese hajj delegation.45 This included 3,093
from Xinjiang and 2,814 from Ningxia.46 Since almost all Ningxia Muslims are Hui, this
43 Dillon, Xinjiang: China's Muslim Far Northwest, 66, 90.
44 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Annual Report 2012 (Washington, DC: U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2012).
45 State Administration for Religious Affairs, "2015 Chaojingongzuozongtuan ping’an fanhui guonei, jinnian
chaojinzuzhigongzuo yuanmanjieshu (2015 Hajj mission safely returned and the organization of Hajj in 2015
finished successfully)," 21 October 2015.
46 Xinjiang Ethnic Affairs Commission, "Xinjiang youzuzhi chaojingongzuo wenbutuijin (Organized Hajj work
in Xinjiang is moving forward steadily," 3 July 2015; State Administration for Religious Affairs,
translates into one pilgrim in every 828 Hui from Ningxia.47 Under the hypothetical assump-
tion that all pilgrims from Xinjiang were Uyghurs, there would be one pilgrim in every 3,473
Uyghurs.48 Since there are other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, there must be something like
one pilgrim per 4,000 Uyghurs from Xinjiang. This means that Hui from Ningxia are between
four and five times as likely to be on a hajj delegation as Uyghurs from Xinjiang. The dispari-
ty puts concrete numbers to the more general pattern that Hui Muslims have easier access to
privileges and are less exposed to restrictions than their Uyghur coreligionists.
Another way to assess this pattern is a comparison between the relevant regulations on reli-
gious affairs in Ningxia and Xinjiang. The most striking difference is that regulations in Xin-
jiang are much stricter and more detailed than in Ningxia. Regulations for Xinjiang empha-
size terms that are hardly mentioned in regulations for Ningxia, such as “national unity”, “so-
cial stability”, “public order”, “patriotism”, “prevention of religious extremism”, “violence”,
“terrorism”, and “secessionism”. For a synopsis of other key differences, see Table 2.
activities Not specified at the regional
level but only in some cities
and counties where Hui ac-
count for a large proportion
of the population (e.g.
Wuzhong city, Xiji county)
Binding region-wide list of 26 illegal
religious activities, including religious
meetings at home, fasting to disrupt
public life, transmission of the call to
prayer by loudspeaker, foreign contacts
for illegal religious
To the regional department of
the State Administration of
Religious Affairs (SARA)
Not only to the regional department of
SARA but also to police and public
"Ningxiayinhang huozhun shidian kaiban yisilan yinhangyewu (Hajj work in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
has been well prepared)," 31 August 2015.
47 Calculation based on the latest population data of 2,328,975 Hui in Ningxia in 2013.
48 Calculation based on the latest population data of 10,744,100 Uyghurs in Xinjiang in 2013.
religious personnel Hardly addressed SARA departments at county level or-
ganize training courses
Censorship Addressed only in generic
terms, establishing the re-
gional department of SARA
as the competent agency
Detailed rules for the censorship of re-
ligious publications. No audio or video
broadcasting of “illegal preaching.”
Ban on the use of digital media to
spread materials lacking approval.
Overseas support Hardly addressed Prohibition of overseas funding for re-
ligious endowments and personnel.
Prohibition of other overseas support.
Table 2: Key differences between religious regulations in Ningxia and Xinjiang49
The Chinese state has a relaxed attitude when it comes to religious controls of the Hui, grant-
ing the latter a level of toleration that would be inconceivable for Turkic Muslim minorities
such as the Uyghurs. For example, it is seen as unacceptable for a Uyghur party member to
practice “religious belief” because of the official emphasis on atheism. In the case of a Hui,
Mosque attendance might be classified as an acceptable form of “ethnic customs.”
The Hui are afforded many privileges such as new mosques even in small communities, mi-
nority schools in large urban centers, relatively free commerce in religious publications and
49 Sources (viewed on 15 January 2016): Xinjiangweiwu’erzizhiqu zongjiaoshiwu tiaoli (Regulations of the Xin-
jiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Religious Affairs), implemented since 1 January 2015,
http://www.pkulaw.cn/fulltext_form.aspx?Db=lar&Gid=17713696; Ningxiahuizuzizhiqu zongjiaoshiwu ruogan
guiding (Regulations of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Religious Affairs), implemented since 1 August
2013, http://www.pkulaw.cn/fulltext_form.aspx?Db=lar&Gid=17529965; Xinjiang Government, Guanyu jied-
ing feifa zongjiaohuodong de yijian (Opinions on the Definition of Illegal Religious Activities), updated version
implemented since 2011,
cultural artifacts, and comparatively easy access to participation in the hajj.50 Whereas major-
ity schools in China are coeducational, Muslim minority institutions are sometimes allowed
to be girls-only.51 The state even tolerates mosque-affiliated nurseries and schools where Ar-
abic, including Quran education, is at the center of the curriculum.52
To be sure, there are limits to the effectiveness of preferential policies. Few graduates from
Muslim-only schools are competitive in the national entrance examination for Chinese uni-
versities, although some make their way to institutions of higher learning in Muslim countries
like Malaysia, Pakistan, or the Middle East.53 While Hui Muslims are overrepresented at the
50 Cooke, "Surviving state and society in Northwest China: the Hui experience in Qinghai Province under the
PRC," 415; Andrew Jacobs, "Light government touch lets China's Hui practice Islam in the open," New York
Times, 2 February 2016.
51 Rosey Wang Ma, "The silent march: unveiling the gentle power behind the consolidation of Islam in the
Western region of China," World Journal of Islamic History and Civilization 2, no. 2 (2012): 108-115. Appar-
ently, the underlying rationale on the part of Hui Muslims is to educate females in Islam so that they can impart
the religion to their children while boys are sent to mainstream schools in preparation for a professional career.
This seems related to a longstanding Hui tradition of passing on religious knowledge and religious practices
through female education and women’s mosques. See Maria Jaschok and Jingjun Shui, The History of Women’s
Mosques in Chinese Islam: A Mosque of Their Own (Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2000).
52 Subsequent to a terrorist attack in Kunming, Chinese authorities have started to roll this back in Yunnan prov-
ince through an edict promulgated by the government of Yunnan on 23 September 2014 and entitled “Guanyu
qieshijiaqiang ayuxuexiao he yisilanjiao jingwenxuexiao(ban) guifanguanligongzuo yijian (Opinions on the
promotion of management of Arabic language schools and Islamic institutes).”
53 Ma, "The silent march: unveiling the gentle power behind the consolidation of Islam in the Western region of
level of highly symbolic although not necessarily influential senior official posts, they tend to
be underrepresented at the level of the bureaucratic rank and file.54
For the Hui, reconciling their loyalty to China with their allegiance to the Muslim ummah
remains a tightrope walk. This became clear in May 1989, at the time of the protests on
Tiananmen Square. While Han students were protesting against the government, Hui Mus-
lims were rallying to petition the government for a ban on a book denigrating Muslim sexual
mores. People shouted “Allahu Akbar” alongside slogans like “Uphold the Constitution” and
“Love our Country, Love our Religion”. The rallies were in protest against a book entitled
Sexual Customs, characterizing the mores of Muslims in a way seen as offensive and blas-
phemous. On some banners, the book was called “The Satanic Verses of China”, although
Chinese Muslims did not otherwise participate in the worldwide protests against Salman
Rushdie’s controversial novel.55 Interestingly, the Chinese government was responsive to the
protesters and outlawed the book.56
The friendly attitude of the Chinese state towards the Hui is in line with the imperial tradition
of seeing the Hui as affiliates of the Han rather than as barbarians, as Hua rather than Yi (or
54 Dillon, China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects, 170. Although Dillon’s observation
dates back to 1998, it is probably still valid.
55 Dru C. Gladney, "Salman Rushdie in China: religion, ethnicity, and state definition in the People’s Republic,"
in Asian Visions of Authority: Religion and Modern States of East and Southeast Asia, ed. Charles F. Keyes,
Laurel Kendall, and Helen Hardacre (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994), 255-278; James D. Frankel,
"'Apoliticization': one facet of Chinese Islam," Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 28, no. 3 (2008): 421-434.
56 While the Hui were allowed to hold rallies in various cities, and while they were allowed to burn copies on
the main square of Lanzhou, there was a crackdown on Uyghur protestors in Urumqi denouncing the same book.
See Gladney, "Salman Rushdie in China: religion, ethnicity, and state definition in the People’s Republic."
as Min rather than Fan).57 Under this tradition, the Hui were considered Sinicized and thus
governable, at least when compared to the outer barbarians. Even today, the tradition is very
much alive. For example, an influential history book begins with the patronizing statement
that the Hui are “relatively economically and culturally advanced.”58
Nevertheless, Han-Hui relations are not always as harmonious as officially proclaimed. In a
1990 standoff in Yunnan, “[v]ehicles filled with explosives, manned by volunteers for mar-
tyrdom, were placed in position to blow up the police stations, if it were deemed necessary”,
and “the men wrote Arabic prayers on white cloths, wrapped themselves in these shrouds,
seized their weapons, and prepared to die.”59 The incident was defused with careful de-
escalation tactics, and most other cases of Hui protest are less dramatic and about local griev-
ances rather than head-on collisions. Yet, there are flares of Hui “rebelliousness.”
Perhaps more worryingly from the perspective of the Chinese state and Party, in recent years
there has been Islamic revivalism among small but growing segments of Hui society in
northwestern China, including an interest in the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam and re-
ceptiveness to transnational Islamist influences like Salafism and the Tablighi Jamaat.60
57 Cooke, "Surviving state and society in Northwest China: the Hui experience in Qinghai Province under the
58 Authors' Collective, Huizu jianshi (Brief History of the Hui Nationality) (Beijing: Ethnic Publishing House,
59 Lipman, "White hats, oil cakes, and common blood: the Hui in the contemporary Chinese state," 19-20.
60 Mohammed Turki A Al-Sudairi, "Adhering to the ways of our western brothers: tracing Saudi influences on
the development of Hui Salafism in China," Sociology of Islam 4, no. 1 (2016): 27-58; Alexander Blair Stewart,
Chinese Muslims and the Global Ummah: Islamic Revival and Ethnic Identity among the Hui of Qinghai
Province (London: Routledge, 2017).
In the Uyghur case, the informal socio-spatial hierarchy acts like a trap for both sides. When
Beijing applies to Uyghurs the accommodative policies that it applies to other minorities,
Uyghurs hardly embrace them but rather see them as a ruse to undermine their identity. When
Beijing then falls back on a more repressive pattern of controls, then the Uyghur response is
even more negative given the history of communal resentment and humiliation.
Ever since the onset of communist rule, the state has frowned upon Uyghurs practicing Islam,
but some restrictions were relaxed after the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. For example,
Chinese authorities silently tolerated the participation of public officials and party members
in religious ceremonies. Similarly, they tolerated the presence of minors under eighteen in
mosques despite a formal ban. However, from the viewpoint of state officials this lead to the
counterproductive outcome of greater Uyghur assertiveness.61 Therefore, after a rather liberal
period in the reform era of the 1980s, Beijing returned to a more repressive policy against
Uyghur religious nationalism.62 In this context, there is often an excessive emphasis on the
Salafi-jihadist threat at the expense of ethno-nationalist motivations.63
61 Graham E. Fuller and Jonathan N. Lipman, "Islam in Xinjiang," in Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland, ed.
S. Frederick Starr (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2004), 320-352.
62 Edmund Waite, "The impact of the state on Islam amongst the Uyghurs: religious knowledge and authority in
the Kashgar Oasis," Central Asian Survey 25, no. 3 (2006): 251-265.
63 Kendrick T. Kuo, "Revisiting the Salafi-jihadist threat in Xinjiang," Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 32, no.
4 (2012): 528-544.
The backlash started after an armed uprising at the Uyghur town of Baren in April 1990.64
With the “Strike Hard” campaign of 1996 and a subsequent uprising in Yining/Ghulja in
1997, Chinese authorities further hardened their approach.65 The rules against the participa-
tion of party members in religious ceremonies and the presence of minors in mosques were
tightened again (enforcement is less strict in rural areas). Underground religious schools were
closed, and the exchange of preachers between mosques was restricted.66
The backlash has further intensified since 9/11 and sometimes takes extreme forms.67 After
the 2009 Urumqi riots, Uyghur truck drivers were denied licenses for driving oil tankers be-
cause they were seen as potential suicide attackers.68 In 2013-2014, there was another wave
of Uyghur terrorist activity, including a suicide attack on Tiananmen Square, a mass stabbing
in Kunming, and a bomb attack in Urumqi timed to coincide with a visit by President Xi
Jinping. This was followed by further sanctions disrupting public life and religiosity in Xin-
jiang, including an intensified de-veiling campaign targeting Uyghur women.69 The situation
64 Bovingdon, The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land, 120-121; Dillon, Xinjiang: China's Muslim Far
65 CCP, "Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Document No. 7: Record of the Meeting of the Standing
Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Maintenance of Stability in
Xinjiang," Human Rights Watch 10, no. 1 [C] (1996): 10-14; Dillon, Xinjiang: China's Muslim Far Northwest,
66 Fuller and Lipman, "Islam in Xinjiang."
67 Martin I. Wayne, China's War on Terrorism: Counter-Insurgency, Politics and Internal Security (London:
68 Andrew Jacobs, "Uyghurs in China say bias is growing," New York Times, 8 October 2013.
69 Colin Mackerras, "Xinjiang in 2013: problems and prospects," Asian Ethnicity 15, no. 2 (2014): 247-250;
Andrew Jacobs, "Nearly 100 reported killed in week of unrest in China," New York Times, 3 August 2014;
has hardly calmed down since. In 2015, an attack on a coal mine ended in about 50 casual-
ties.70 2016 saw a suicide bombing at the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan and an armed at-
tack at a Communist Party Office in Xinjiang killing 5 people.71 Chinese authorities have re-
mained on high alert, confiscating numerous passports and adopting strict internet controls.72
At the same time, the Chinese authorities continue to deploy preferential policies and “af-
firmative action.” For example, the offspring of Uyghur parents enjoy preferential access to
university, with a significantly lower bar at university entrance exams. Like other minorities,
Uyghurs have access to a dedicated Minzu University of China, located in Beijing.73 The
Chinese Communist Party even runs a highly ambitious (re)education program whereby
around 10,000 Uyghur children, predominantly from traditionalist southern Xinjiang, are sent
to eastern China every year to imbibe the “Zonghua minzu identity” in the “Xinjiang
Class”—only to embrace a reconstructed Uyghur Muslim identity after graduation.74
James Leibold and Timothy A. Grose, "Veiling in Xinjiang: the political and societal struggle to define Uyghur
female adornment," China Journal, no. 76 (2016): 78-102.
70 Javier C. Hernández, "China acknowledges killing 28 people; accuses them of role in mine attack," New York
Times, 20 November 2015.
71 Ivan Nechepurenko, "Bomber strikes Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan," New York Times, 31 August 2016;
Javier C. Hernández, "China says 5 killed in attack at Communist Party office in Xinjiang," New York Times, 30
72 Edward Wong, "China police pulls passports in some parts of Xinjiang," New York Times, 2 December 2016;
Edward Wong, "Xinjiang, tense Chinese region, adopts strict Internet controls," New York Times, 10 December
73 Hasmath, "The education of ethnic minorities in Beijing," 1845-1847.
74 Timothy A. Grose, "(Re)embracing Islam in Neidi: the 'Xinjiang Class' and the dynamics of Uyghur ethno-
national identity," Journal of Contemporary China 24, no. 91 (2015): 101-118.
Until the mid-2000s, affirmative action was frustrated by the fact that most Uyghurs sent
their offspring to minority schools where instruction was in the Uyghur language. Ethno-
graphic studies suggest that they believed doing otherwise might have compromised the cul-
tural and religious identity of their offspring. Perhaps more seriously for the children in-
volved, Uyghurs schooled in Mandarin (minkaohan) suffered from discrimination and re-
sentment in both Uyghur and Han society.75 Since the 2000s, the Xinjiang government has
counteracted this tendency by vigorously promoting “bilingual” education. Bilingualism is
understood as education in Mandarin supplemented by the mother tongue.
It remains to be seen whether and to what extent this translates into greater university enroll-
ment for Uyghurs. It stands to reason, however, that greater proficiency in Mandarin should
enable more Uyghur high school graduates to benefit from positive discrimination at univer-
sities, where proficiency in Mandarin is a requirement.76 Indeed, as long as few Uyghurs
graduate from university, no conspiracy theory is needed to explain why they remain un-
derrepresented in the public sector, despite an official policy of affirmative action.77
75 Jennifer Taynen, "Interpreters, arbiters or outsiders: the role of the Min kao Han in Xinjiang society," Journal
of Muslim Minority Affairs 26, no. 1 (2006): 45-62.
76 Rong Ma, "Xinjiang minzujiaoyu de fazhan yu shuangyujiaoyu de shijian (Minority education and the
practice of bilingual teaching in Xinjiang)," Beijingdaxue jiaoyupinglun (Peking University Education Review)
6, no. 2 (2008): 2-41.
77 Linda Benson, "Education and social mobility among minority populations in Xinjiang," in Xinjiang: China's
Muslim Borderland, ed. S. Frederick Starr (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2004), 190-215; Cheng Li, "Ethnic
minority elites in China's party-state leadership: an empirical assessment," China Leadership Monitor 25(2005);
Barry Sautman, "Preferential policies for ethnic minorities in China: the case of Xinjiang," Nationalism and
Ethnic Politics 4, no. 1 (2005): 86-118; Bovingdon, The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land, 63-64. While
there is affirmative action at the level of the bureaucratic rank-and-file, at the highest level there is a genuine
There are many religious restrictions specific to Xinjiang. The call to prayer must not be
transmitted by loudspeaker (see Table 2), a rule that does not apply elsewhere. Uyghur stu-
dents must not be caught performing their daily prayers or wearing religious garb.78 Chinese
authorities have been reluctant to issue passports and other travel documents to Uyghurs, and
particularly to Uyghur students seeking permission to study abroad, in order to prevent them
from exposure to extreme nationalist and/or Islamist ideas.79 Home-based and otherwise un-
registered religious activities are not only considered illegal but also severely persecuted.80
Uyghur clerics are state-appointed and must be graduates from the Xinjiang Islamic Religion
Institute in Urumqi, which monopolizes the training of “patriotic clerics.”81 While a similar
policy also applies to other Muslims like the Hui and the Kazaks, many Uyghurs are not will-
ing to tolerate the submission of their clerics to Chinese authorities. This leaves the clerics
between a rock and a hard place. When they strive to remain independent, then their profile
reluctance of the Chinese state to surrender control to minority representatives. Thus, the governor of Xinjiang
and the president of the regional assembly are typically Uyghurs, but de-facto power is wielded by the secretary
of the regional committee of the Communist Party, who is invariably a Han. See Enze Han, Contestation and
Adaptation: The Politics of National Identity in China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 42.
78 Fuller and Lipman, "Islam in Xinjiang."; Bovingdon, The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land, 65-72;
Michael E. Clarke, Xinjiang and China's Rise in Central Asia: A History (London: Routledge, 2011), 129-140.
79 Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in Contemporary
80 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2016 Annual Report (Washington, DC: U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2016).
81 Yitzhak Shichor, "Blow up: internal and external challenges of Uyghur separatism and Islamic radicalism to
Chinese rule in Xinjiang," Asian Affairs 32, no. 2 (2005): 119-135, 128. Small neighborhood mosques are some-
times allowed to have religious leaders outside the public payroll. Precisely for this reason, state informers rou-
tinely attend their sermons and the police monitor their activities.
as community leaders gets them in trouble with Chinese authorities.82 When they are submis-
sive to the authorities, however, they may lose followers or even face assassination.83
While the restrictive policies in Xinjiang appear objectionable from a western-liberal per-
spective, Chinese authorities do have reason to be on their guard. Even scholars sympathetic
with Uyghur grievances acknowledge a palpable element of ethnoreligious radicalism in Uy-
ghur society.84 Western academics visiting Xinjiang found Islamists claiming that “non-
Muslim rule over Muslims can never be legitimate and that Uyghurs must therefore struggle
for independence and the formation of a Muslim state”. They heard “oblique references to
underground religious schools” and rumors of support for Uyghur resistance emanating from
Central Asia, Pakistan and, until 2001, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.85
This places Chinese authorities in a difficult position. On the one hand, the Communist Party
is desperate to avoid a repetition of the situation in the 1990s when the Xinjiang Daily wrote:
“Some village-level organizations are but empty shells and are dominated and controlled by
illegal religious forces”.86 On the other hand, banning Uyghur officials and party members
from religious activities alienates them from their constituents and undermines their ability to
82 The profile of clerics is all the higher in Uyghur society as Uyghurs directly serving the state are seen as col-
83 Fuller and Lipman, "Islam in Xinjiang."; Shichor, "Blow up: internal and external challenges of Uyghur
separatism and Islamic radicalism to Chinese rule in Xinjiang."; Mackerras, "Xinjiang in 2013: problems and
prospects," 247-248; Andrew Jacobs, "Court sentences 2 teenagers to death in killing of an Islamic cleric," New
York Times, 29 September 2014.
84 Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in Contemporary
85 Fuller and Lipman, "Islam in Xinjiang," 329, 336.
86 Cited in Wayne, China's War on Terrorism: Counter-Insurgency, Politics and Internal Security, 93.
create organic links with the state.87 At the heart of the matter, there is a dogged willingness
on the part of Uyghur religious nationalists to wrest control from Chinese authorities, and an
equally dogged willingness on the part of Chinese authorities to remain in control.
More than in any other emerging market, economic relations in China are hardly separable
from political relations. State regulation is still very tight, especially in the “backward”
northwestern regions where most Muslims live. Yet, economic liberalization has led to a
more differentiated picture, producing a variety of absolute and relative winners and losers.
Among China’s Muslims, the Hui have largely benefitted from economic liberalization
whereas Uyghurs are widely perceived, and perceive themselves, as relative losers. This rein-
forces the perception of a socio-spatial hierarchy between China’s Muslim minorities.
Take as an example the “Great Western Development” campaign that started in 1999 and is
supposed to bring harmony to China’s underdeveloped Western areas, and particularly to
Xinjiang.88 In the characteristic carrots-and-sticks approach of the Chinese state towards Uy-
ghurs, the development campaign is the economic carrot par excellence. But while there is no
denial that Xinjiang’s Han and Hui communities have greatly benefitted from the campaign,
we will see that Uyghurs complain about relative deprivation regardless of the fact that, in
87 Stephen E. Hess, "Islam, local elites, and China's missteps in integrating the Uyghur nation," USAK Yearbook
88 Michael E. Clarke, "China's internal security dilemma and the "Great Western Development": the dynamics of
integration, ethnic nationalism and terrorism in Xinjiang," Asian Studies Review 31, no. 3 (2007): 323-342;
Clarke, Xinjiang and China's Rise in Central Asia: A History, 129-156.
absolute terms, even they have been left better off by the Great Western Development cam-
paign and, more recently, by aspects of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” strategy.89
Generalizations about the economic situation of the Hui are arduous due to the diversity of
local circumstances, from rural communities in the mountainous northwest to urban commu-
nities on the east coast. Overall, however, the Hui have been quite successful in benefiting
from economic liberalization in the wake of Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 reforms.
The most obvious case in point is halal (qingzhen) restaurants, which not only have a guaran-
teed outlet to Muslim customers but are also popular among Han Chinese customers. There
are many other occupations where the Hui are doing well. In Qinghai, for example, the Hui
have adapted to economic liberalization by reviving their pre-1949 economic niches running
trucks or long-distance minibus services and as petty merchants and entrepreneurs, trading
wool, furs, and animal hides from pastoral areas to urban customers.90
In the banking sector, there are some signs of economic segregation. Decades ago, Hui Mus-
lims in Qinghai opened their own saving center at the Xining City Bank of Industry and
Commerce because “Muslim money should be used for Muslim affairs.”91 In 2009, Ningxia
89 Colin Mackerras, "Xinjiang in China's foreign relations: part of a new silk road or Central Asian zone of
conflict?," East Asia 32, no. 1 (2015): 25-42.
90 Cooke, "Surviving state and society in Northwest China: the Hui experience in Qinghai Province under the
PRC," 413-414. This is in line with the traditional Hui role as middlemen, or brokers, between Han and non-Han.
See Lipman, "White hats, oil cakes, and common blood: the Hui in the contemporary Chinese state," 31.
91 Dillon, China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects, 176-177.
Bank started a pilot scheme of Islamic banking, with mixed results.92 In 2011, a bank in Lan-
zhou, Gansu province, introduced a Muslim credit card, called “Crescent and Star Card”.93
Obviously, there are tight limits to such economic segregation. In the 1980s, a number of Hui
mosques were revitalizing the classical Muslim institution of waqf, or endowed property gen-
erating a regular income for a religious institution. Especially in Ningxia, mosques exploited
tax breaks and other fiscal incentives to become business players, which helped them in fi-
nancing their activities. For example, in 1986 the Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan set up its
own hotel, canteen, grocery, shop, and clinic.94 In 1988, there were at least two comparable
cases at mosques in Beijing (Qianmen and Mentougou).95 After a policy reversal in the 1990s,
any official reporting of waqf-type practices has come to a halt, although there are various
informal arrangements continuing and emerging in Ningxia, Qinghai, and Gansu.96
In line with their high status in the informal socio-spatial hierarchy of Muslim minorities, the
Hui are often seen as a valuable “Islamic card” to promote international trade. When sending
workers to Muslim-majority countries, Chinese companies often use subsidiaries headed by
Hui Muslims and rely on Hui as cultural consultants. The Hui are thus treated as useful prox-
92 Xinhua, "Ningxiayinhang huozhun shidian kaiban yisilan yinhangyewu (Ningxia Bank has been officially
approved to establish its pilot Islamic banking services)," 25 December 2009; Xinhua, "Ningxia yuanjing: sheli
yisilan jinrongzhongxin (Ningxia vision: the establishment of an Islamic financial centre)," 26 November 2012;
Erie, China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law, 288-299.
93 See http://cn.unionpay.com/gansu/cup_gs_scdt/file_80165781.html (accessed on 8 January 2016).
94 Lipman, "White hats, oil cakes, and common blood: the Hui in the contemporary Chinese state," 37.
95 Welcome to Islam, "Beijingshi Qingzhensi (Mosques of Beijing),"
96 Erie, China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law, 281-288.
ies to facilitate better trade relations with the Muslim world.97 Especially in Ningxia (less so
in other provinces and regions), the Hui have been able to attract considerable investment and
even charitable donations from the Middle East. Every year, Ningxia hosts the glamorous
China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum, as well as the “Halal Food Muslims Every-
day Product Festival.” Needless to say, all of this is counterbalanced by concerns in Han cir-
cles that such relations might open the gates for religious influences from the Middle East.98
Even so, and on balance, the Hui are seen as an asset rather than a liability. In Yiwu, a market
town in southeastern China, for example, Hui middlemen are systematically deployed as
mercantile go-betweens between Han businessmen and their foreign Muslim clients.99
Unlike the Hui, Uyghurs trading with Muslim countries are not seen as a desirable “Islamic
card” but as dangerous incubators of extremism. Therefore, Uyghur trade links with Central
Asia and Pakistan were disrupted in the early 2000s, with Han and Hui taking over.100 Since
97 Gladney, Dislocating China: Reflections on Muslims, Minorities, and Other Subaltern Subjects, 57; Wai-Yip
Ho, "Mobilizing the Muslim minority for China's development: Hui Muslims, ethnic relations and Sino-Arab
connections," Journal of Comparative Asian Development 12, no. 1 (2013): 84-112.
98 Erie, China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law, 295-302.
99 Ibid., 206-214.
100 Sean R. Roberts, "A "land of borderlands": implications of Xinjiang's trans-border interactions," in Xinjiang:
China's Muslim Borderland, ed. S. Frederick Starr (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2004), 216-237, 220-225; Ziad
Haider, "Sino-Pakistan relations and Xinjiang's Uighurs: politics, trade, and Islam along the Karakoram
Highway," Asian Survey 45, no. 4 (2005): 522-545, 525-531; Hasan H. Karrar, "Merchants, markets, and the
state: informality, transnationality, and spatial imaginaries in the revival of Central Eurasian trade," Critical
Asian Studies 45, no. 3 (2013): 459-480, 466-467.
then, Uyghurs have hardly been able to exploit their position as a Turkic people connecting
China with Central Asia. Even in their home region of Xinjiang, the Uyghurs are low on the
occupational food chain and have significantly lower per capita income than Han.101
More than 80 percent of Uyghurs work in agriculture, compared to “only” 37 percent of the
Han. Conversely, more than 35 percent of Han work in high-status and high-paying jobs,
compared to only 13 percent for Uyghurs.102 From the materialist perspective of the Chinese
Communist Party, such structural marginalization is an important source of ethnoreligious
resentment and separatism, calling for economic development as a solution. According to a
1996 report, “[a]ll we need to do is serve the various minzu in Xinjiang heart and soul, take
economic development as the crux, lift up the economy, lift up education, and do a good job
with United Front work and minzu religion work.”103 More recently, the Party has shifted to a
security-focused approach that places the emphasis on social stability, with “religious work”
and economic development subservient to that objective. Despite the shift in emphasis, de-
velopment continues to be regarded as a crucial part of any solution for Xinjiang.104
Partly in pursuit of this political strategy, the Great Western Development campaign has
pushed growth rates in Xinjiang above national average. Paradoxically, however, the policy
101 Han, Contestation and Adaptation: The Politics of National Identity in China, 57.
102 Reza Hasmath, "Managing China's Muslim minorities: migration, labour and the rise of ethno-religious
consciousness among Uyghurs in urban Xinjiang," in Religion and the State: A Comparative Sociology, ed. Jack
Barbalet, Adam Possamai, and Bryan Turner (New York: Anthem Press, 2011), 121-137, 7-8.
103 Cited in Gardner Bovingdon, "Heteronomy and its discontents: "Minzu regional autonomy" in Xinjiang," in
Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers, ed. Morris Rossabi (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004),
104 Xinhua, "Xijinping zai di’erci zhongyangxinjianggongzuozuotanhuishang fabiao zhongyaojianghua (Xi
Jinping delivered an important speech in the second Xinjiang Work Seminar of the CCCPC)," 30 May 2014.
has led to an increased sense of deprivation among Uyghurs. The reason is that the market-
oriented expansion has led to an increase of the private sector relative to the state sector.
While affirmative action in the state sector continues to create an artificially level playing
field, in the private sector Uyghurs tend to earn less than Han. A survey in Urumqi suggests
that, after controlling for education and other factors, there is rough Uyghur-Han income
parity in the state sector; but outside the state sector, Uyghurs earn less than half.105 Some
explain this by discrimination and cronyism (guanxi), while others point to differences in cul-
ture and work ethic. Given that many Uyghurs strongly resent the Han and more than 80%
are unable to read Mandarin,106 no conspiracy theory is needed to understand why many Han
employers use their contractual freedom to hire Han or Hui rather than Uyghur workers.107
Despite the massive investment unlocked by the Great Western Development campaign, there
is a vitriolic debate on how much, if anything, the Uyghurs are benefiting. While per capita
income has increased for all sectors of the population including Uyghurs, there are bitter
complaints about intercommunal disparities and the relative deprivation of Uyghurs as com-
pared to the Han and Hui.108 Uyghur insurgents increasingly target Han and, to a lesser extent,
Hui migrants rather than Chinese state officials and symbols of the state.109
105 Xiaowei Zang, "Uyghur-Han earnings differentials in Ürümchi," China Journal 65(2011): 141-155.
106 Timothy A. Grose, "The Xinjiang Class: education, integration, and the Uyghurs," Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs 31, no. 1 (2010): 97-109.
107 Yuchao Zhu and Dongyan Blachford, "Economic expansion, marketization, and their social impact on
China's ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet," Asian Survey 52, no. 4 (2012): 714-733.
108 Barry Sautman, "Is Xinjiang an internal colony?," Inner Asia 2, no. 2 (2000): 239-271; Huhua Cao, "Urban-
rural income disparity and urbanization: What is the role of spatial distribution of ethnic groups? A case study of
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China," Regional Studies 44, no. 8 (2010): 965-982; Hasmath,
Interethnic relations are often rife with mutual stereotyping, which makes them an exceeding-
ly difficult object of study. To avoid the risk of amplifying prejudice that may be prevalent
among the participants, let us start this section with a reasonably objective measure for the
quality of relations: the propensity of different ethnic groups to intermarry.
Until recently, in China there has been a peculiar incentive for intermarriage between Han
and members of minority groups: the latter, including both the Hui and the Uyghurs, were
exempt from the one-child policy, i.e. they could have two or more children. The exemption
extended to mixed-marriage couples, which in most cases were automatically granted the
right to have a second child. In rural areas, “ethnic” couples were often allowed to have even
more than two children. A recent comparative survey demonstrates that the minority exemp-
tions in Xinjiang and Ningxia were among the most generous found all over China.110
Minority exemptions from the one child policy created an incentive for Han to marry spouses
from ethnic minorities, which in turn enabled people from a minority background to “marry
up”, i.e. marry Han of more desirable economic and/or social extraction than would otherwise
"Managing China's Muslim minorities: migration, labour and the rise of ethno-religious consciousness among
Uyghurs in urban Xinjiang."
109 Isabelle Côté, "The enemies within: targeting Han Chinese and Hui minorities in Xinjiang," Asian Ethnicity
16, no. 2 (2015): 136-151.
110 Danielle F.S. Cohen, "Minority Births under China's One-Child Policy. Paper Presented at the Annual
Meeting of the International Studies Association, Toronto, Canada," (2014).
have been possible.111 In a situation of positive inter-group relations, one would therefore
predict high levels of intermarriage. The data however speaks a different language.
Nationwide, 91.6 percent of the Chinese population is Han, with the remainder made up of
ethnic minorities. 2.7 percent of all Chinese households are bi-ethnic. It appears fair to as-
sume that most of these bi-ethnic households result from intermarriage, although in some
cases there may be other reasons. While inference is difficult at this aggregate level, the rela-
tively low number suggests a certain level of communal segregation (Table 3).
Han (%) Non-Han (%) Hui (%) Uyghur (%) Bi-ethnic households (%)
Nationwide 91.6 8.4 0.79 0.76 2.69
Ningxia 63.64 36.36 35.60 < 0.8 1.98
Xinjiang 38.0 62.0 4.6 47.4 1.37
Table 3: Households by ethnicity.112
In Ningxia, the percentage of non-Han (almost all of whom are Hui) is more than four times
the national average but the share of bi-ethnic households is less than the national average.
While intermarriage between Han and Hui does occur, communal segregation makes it ex-
tremely rare. The situation is even more dramatic in Xinjiang, where more than 47 percent
are Uyghur and more than 60 percent are non-Han. This includes 7 percent Kazak, 4.6 per-
111 Rachel Butera and Thierry Warin, "Chinese interethnic marriage: passion or rational choice?," International
Journal of Economics and Business Research 4, no. 6 (2012): 738-762.
112 Sources: National Bureau of Statistics of China, Tabulation on the 2010 Population Census of the People's
Republic of China, Part I, Tables 2-1 and 5-3; Statistics Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,
Xinjiang tongji nianjian (Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook); Statistics Bureau of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region,
Ningxia tongji nianjian (Ningxia Statistical Yearbook).
cent Hui, 0.9 percent Kyrgyz, 0.8 percent Mongolian, and another 1.3 percent from other mi-
norities.113 Without prior knowledge, one might naively expect Xinjiang to have a high rate
of intermarriage. On the face of it, however, the rate is even further below national average!
This surely is an indicator that intercommunal segregation in Xinjiang is at its highest.114
To complement the regional-level data presented in Table 3, let us consider national-level
rates for endogamy and intermarriage. Strikingly, the Uyghurs are more endogamous than
any other of China’s 56 ethnic groups. A comparison of ethnic endogamy and intermarriage
rates among the five most relevant ethnic groups yields the following picture (Table 4).
Han Hui Uyghur Kazak Dongxiang
Han 98.55 11.43 0.24 2.40 0.48
Hui 0.10 87.06 0.07 0.38 11.39
Uyghur 0.00 0.06 99.47 0.67 0.03
Kazak 0.00 0.05 0.10 95.80 0.03
Dongxiang 0.00 0.52 0.00 0.00 87.64
Table 4: Ethnic endogamy and intermarriage rates.115
113 Statistics Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang tongji nianjian (Xinjiang Statistical
114 After a meeting of the Politburo in 2014, the Chinese state has begun to experiment with financial incentives
to promote intermarriage in Xinjiang. See James Leibold, "Xinjiang Work Forum marks new policy of 'ethnic
mingling'," China Brief 14, no. 12 (2014): 3-6; Edward Wong, "China offers incentives to intermarry in
Xinjiang," International New York Times, 3 September 2014.
115 Calculations based on Department of Population and Employment Statistics of National Bureau of Statistics
of China and Department of Economic Development of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, Zhongguo
Seven of the ten most endogamous ethnic groups in China are Muslim.116 Yet there is large
variation, with the Uyghurs firmly in the lead. With a rate of 99.47 percent, the Uyghurs are
even more endogamous than the Han (98.55%) whom one would expect to be very endoga-
mous given their preponderant share of the population. The Hui are far less endogamous
(87.06%), like the Mongolic Dongxiang (87.64%). The Hui-Han intermarriage rate (11.43%)
is almost fifty times higher than the Uyghur-Han intermarriage rate (0.24%). The case of the
Kazaks demonstrates that other Turkic-speaking Muslim minorities living in Xinjiang are far
more amenable to intermarriage with the Han (2.40%) than the Uyghurs (0.24%).
As Table 4 suggests, Han-Hui intermarriage is not unheard of. Even so, Table 3 suggests that
there must be some inhibitor making it less frequent than one might expect. In fact, there is
ethnographic evidence to indicate that endogamy is often a conscious choice among the Hui.
Men in isolated Hui villages tend to get their wives either from their own village and some-
times even from their own extended family, but those unwilling or unable to do so resort to
remote Hui villages in faraway provinces rather than marrying some Han neighbour’s daugh-
2010nian renkoupucha fenminzu renkouziliao (Tabulation on Nationalities of the 2010 Population Census of
China) (Beijing: Minzu chubanshe (Ethnic Publishing House), 2013), Table 4-4.
116 Uyghurs 99.47%; Han 98.55%; Tajiks 97.16%; Kazaks 95.80%; Kirgiz 95.71%; Tibetans 92.84%; Koreans
89.94%; Dongxiang 87.64%; Hui 87.06%; Salars 86.19%.
ter.117 A survey from Lanzhou suggests that differences in religion and lifestyle, including
dietary requirements, are crucial inhibitors against intermarriage even in urban areas.118
There is a (moderate) propensity among Hui to be the dominant part in intermarriages with
Han counterparts. The most frequent constellation is couples with a male Hui head of house-
hold, and the least frequent one is couples with a female Han head of household.119 The most
likely reason is that Hui Muslims assume that the offspring from Han-dominated families will
grow up as Han. As an intellectual from Beijing put it, “[t]here is a ‘Great Wall’ separating us
Hui from the Han. We do not eat pork and we do not give them our women.”120 This biased
pattern of intermarriage appears related to an ethnocentric understanding that Han can be-
come Hui but the reverse is impossible.121 While this runs counter to the classical Confucian
perspective, it chimes with a Muslim understanding that everybody can and should convert to
Islam but a Muslim must never compromise his/her religious identity. Ethnographic scholar-
ship suggests that even urban Hui often require conversion to Islam for intermarriage.122
117 Gladney, Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic, 229-259.
118 Xiaowei Zang, "Hui Muslim - Han Chinese differences in perceptions on endogamy in urban China," Asian
Ethnicity 6, no. 1 (2005): 51-68.
119 Families with male Hui head of household: 213,751. Families with male Han head of household: 196,873.
Families with female Hui head of household: 52,331. Families with female Han head of household: 36,110.
120 Cited in Gladney, Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic, 230.
121 Ibid., 245.
122 Maris Gillette, Between Mecca and Beijing: Modernization and Consumption Among Urban Chinese
Muslims (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000), 131-132. Historically, asymmetric intermarriage is at
least in part how the Hui community used to grow in past epochs, gradually increasing their population share
through offspring from non-Muslim women. See Gladney, "Islam in China: accommodation or separatism?,"
464; Gladney, "Islam in China: state policing and identity politics," 160.
Even so, the Hui have become accustomed to the fact that they occupy an inferior though
privileged place in the Han socio-spatial hierarchy. Having negotiated for centuries their
identity as Muslims in a non-Muslim environment, the Hui are notorious for their “trained
self-censorship.”123 Their religious names, which are frequently derived from Koranic Arabic
or Persian names, are predominantly for internal use, and depending on circumstances they
may or may not be displayed on their business cards.124 In a peculiar kind of cultural mimicry,
Hui mosques traditionally resemble Chinese temple architecture. This has been changing,
however. Mosques constructed or reconstructed after the Cultural Revolution tend to emulate
architectural styles familiar from the Middle East and/or Central Asia.125
In Han circles, Hui cohesion is often seen with suspicion. In Lanzhou, Gansu, Han informers
bemoan that Hui carry the day in fist-fights against Han because other Hui would join their
coreligionists whereas Han would stand by.126 The Hui are seen as “sticking together”, and
for all but the politically incorrect turn of phrase that notion appears even in academic
texts.127 While in the northwest there is considerable evidence in support of the stereotype, in
the southeast it is quite common for Hui families to live in mixed urban neighborhoods. In
these areas, assimilation has erased almost any tangible marker of distinction.128 Another
123 Frankel, "'Apoliticization': one facet of Chinese Islam," 423.
124 Dillon, China's Muslims, 53.
125 Ibid., 38.
126 Xiaowei Zang, Ethnicity and Urban Life in China: A Comparative Study of Hui Muslims and Han Chinese
(London: Routledge, 2007).
127 Zhijuan Yang, "Zuqunrentong yu minzu de jieding: yi huizu weili (National identity and the demarcation of a
nation: a case study of Hui)," Huizu yanjiu (Journal of Hui Muslim Minority Studies) 40, no. 4 (2000): 4-8.
128 Cooke, "Surviving state and society in Northwest China: the Hui experience in Qinghai Province under the
conventional stereotype, sometimes amplified by the Communist Party, is that the Hui are
“feudal”, “backward”, “of low cultural quality”, and “troublesome”.129
While many Hui have internalized such notions of inferiority and benefit from related posi-
tive discrimination, others showcase a belief that “authentic” Islam is superior to any other
civilization, pointing to Arab prosperity as evidence.130 Some refer to Islam as a complete
way of life and emphasize that coexistence between the Hui and the Han is bound to be awk-
ward for both sides.131 In 2000, after a non-Muslim street vendor in Shandong Province had
put up a sign advertising “Muslim pork”, initially peaceful protests escalated into a violent
standoff with state forces when hundreds if not thousands of Muslims from nearby Hebei
Province were trying to join the rally.132 A similar incident happened in 2015 in Anhui Prov-
ince, after Muslims had discovered that the “halal” (qingzhen) brand was abused to produce
pork and other food.133 All of this indicates that Han-Hui relations are sometimes more diffi-
cult than official proclamations of social harmony suggest—but even though Han-Hui rela-
tions are far from always harmonious, they are certainly better than Han-Uyghur relations.
129 Gillette, Between Mecca and Beijing: Modernization and Consumption Among Urban Chinese Muslims.
130 Ibid., Ch. 2 and 8.
131 Osman Chuah, "Muslims in China: the social and economic situation of the Hui Chinese," Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs 24, no. 1 (2004): 155-162.
132 Lipman, "White hats, oil cakes, and common blood: the Hui in the contemporary Chinese state," 45-46.
http://www.2muslim.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=746912 (both accessed on 8 January 2016).
Ethnographic research suggests that, ever since the 1990s, the Uyghurs have increasingly
made social segregation, including the taboo against intermarriage and the Islamic halal diet,
a point of ethno-nationalist honor—what Joanne Smith Finley calls “symbolic resistance.”134
Ethnographers have found that “a Uyghur marrying a Han Chinese would be disowned by his
or her family, and would constantly be harassed and scolded within the Uyghur communi-
ty.”135 In Xinjiang’s male-dominated and ostentatiously religious society, it is not surprising
that, following Islamic rules, Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslims. This is
despite the fact that Muslim social and religious rules would allow Muslim males to marry
non-Muslim females as long as the latter are willing to bring up the children as Muslims.136
With less than 10,000 cases in the whole of China, Han-Uyghur intermarriage is extremely
rare.137 Meticulous ethnographic research has demonstrated that this is based on a Uyghur
rather than a Han taboo.138 Uyghurs are less prone to intermarriage than any other ethnic
group. As we have seen, Uyghurs already had the lowest rate of interethnic marriage among
all of China’s 56 ethnic groups in 2000, with 1.05 percent. Since then, the figure has halved
134 Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in
135 Enze Han, "Boundaries, discrimination, and interethnic conflict in Xinjiang, China," International Journal of
Conflict and Violence 4, no. 2 (2010): 244-256, 250.
136 Fuller and Lipman, "Islam in Xinjiang," 321.
137 Families with male Uyghur head of household: 3,166. Families with female Uyghur head of household: 686.
Families with male Han head of household: 4,766. Families with female Han head of household: 508.
138 Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in
Contemporary Xinjiang, 294-348.
to 0.53 percent, whereas interethnic marriages for other groups have held steady.139 Uyghur
exogamy is even lower in the traditionalist and segregated areas of southern Xinjiang.140
In the few cases where a Uyghur undertakes intermarriage, the spouse is Han in less than half
of the cases. Religion is the inhibitor most frequently cited, but this is only part of the story.
Uyghurs are even less likely to intermarry with Hui Muslims than with Han.141 This is in line
with the socio-spatial hierarchy: many Uyghurs see the Hui as political proxies of the Han,
and as culturally Chinese rather than religiously Muslim.142 Once again, we can see how cen-
turies of Hui acculturation and Han-Uyghur confrontation have driven a wedge between the
two groups of Muslims. Uyghur-Kazak intermarriage is also quite rare (see Table 4).
Identity politics is rampant in Xinjiang, one of China’s most multiethnic regions. Uyghurs
stereotype their Kazak coreligionists and Central Asian co-ethnics as nomadic and less au-
139 Zhongyi Liu and Li Zhang, "Zhongguo zujihunyin de bianhua queshi yanjiu: jiyu 'Wupu' he 'Liupu' shuju de
duibifenxi (A study on changing trends in China's inter-ethnic marriage: based on the comparison of data from
the fifth and sixth census)," Guangxi minzuyanjiu (Guangxi Ethnic Studies) 123, no. 3 (2015): 61-71; Xiaoxia Li,
"Zhongguo ge minzu jian zuji hunyin de xianzhuang fenxi (Analysis of the current state of inter-ethnic marriage
among different Chinese ethnic groups)," Renkou yanjiu (Population Research) 28, no. 3 (2004): 68-75.
140 Xiaoxia Li, "Xinjiang nanbu nongcun weihantonghun diaocha (Investigation on intermarriage between
Uyghurs and Han in rural areas of southern Xinjiang)," Xinjiang shehuikexue (Social Sciences in Xinjiang) 179,
no. 4 (2012): 59-66.
141 Families with male Hui head of household: 1,359. Families with female Hui head of household: 105. Fami-
lies with male Uyghur head of household: 855. Families with female Uyghur head of household: 174.
142 Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in
thentically Muslim due to their shamanistic legacy.143 What is more, Uyghur xenophobia ap-
pears to extend far beyond anti-Han sentiment. At the 2009 Urumqi riots, Uyghurs chanted
“Kill the Han, kill the Hui,” “Cut the Kazaks,” and “Drive the Mongols out.”144
Ethnographers have found that intergroup resentment runs high and violence can flare up any
time, whether on the marketplace or in a dance hall.145 While it is true that few Han bother to
learn the Uyghur language, it is mostly the Uyghurs who set the terms of segregation.146 Thus,
Uyghur youth sometimes take their female partners to the more discreet Chinese dance halls,
but a Han girl would hardly be tolerated in a Uyghur establishment. Han are frequent guests
in Uyghur restaurants, but Uyghurs insist that they cannot enter Han restaurants for fear of
contamination with pork.147 Uyghurs sometimes extend hospitality to Han but, with similar
excuses, usually won’t accept an invitation in the other direction. In one case, Uyghurs even
objected to sharing a hospital ward with Han patients and their visitors.148
143 Lipman, "White hats, oil cakes, and common blood: the Hui in the contemporary Chinese state," 51; Han,
"Boundaries, discrimination, and interethnic conflict in Xinjiang, China," 252.
144 Hannah Beech, "If China is anti-Islam, why are these Chinese Muslims enjoying a faith revival?," Time, 12
August 2014; Côté, "The enemies within: targeting Han Chinese and Hui minorities in Xinjiang," 140.
145 Ildikó Bellér-Hann, "Temperamental neighbours: Uighur-Han relations in Xinjiang, Northwest China," in
Imagined Differences: Hatred and the Construction of Identity, ed. Günther Schlee (Hamburg: LIT, 2002), 57-
146 Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in
Contemporary Xinjiang, 130-172; Joanne N. Smith, ""Making culture matter": symbolic, spatial and social
boundaries between Uyghurs and Han Chinese," Asian Ethnicity 3, no. 2 (2002): 153-174.
147 Uyghurs strictly observe the Islamic prohibition against eating pork, yet alcohol, drugs, and sexual promiscu-
ity are rampant in parts of Uyghur society. See Fuller and Lipman, "Islam in Xinjiang."
148 Bellér-Hann, "Temperamental neighbours: Uighur-Han relations in Xinjiang, Northwest China," 74.
Intercommunal resentment between Uyghurs and Han is not only of an ethnic nature but also
has religious overtones. Han use expressions like “towel-head” (chantou) for Uyghurs, and
Uyghurs use expressions like kapir for the Han, a term derived from the Arabic word for in-
fidel.149 The litany of anti-Han stereotypes among Uyghurs easily fills forty pages.150 This
demonstrates that the socio-spatial distance between Han and Uyghurs is not only entrenched
on both sides but also reinforced by resentment that will be hard to overcome.
China looks back to an ancient tradition of relying on ethnic and religious minority groups to
control or constrain other such groups (yiyi zhiyi). This has left its legacy, namely a socio-
spatial hierarchy according to which certain groups are more of an asset and others more of a
liability. The Sinicized Hui (and others like the Kazaks) are in the former category, and the
Uyghurs (and others like the Tibetans) in the latter. This article has shown that the hierarchy
is reflected in Han-Muslim relations at the political, economic, and societal level.
From a liberal perspective, this is disturbing because it has clear elements of discrimination.
It is also regrettable from a Han perspective because it frustrates attempts to mend fences
with those Muslim groups who, like the Uyghurs, fall at the lower end of the socio-spatial
hierarchy. Yet, the hierarchy also performs an important function in that it enables the Chi-
nese majority to manage a set of otherwise highly challenging relationships.
149 Bovingdon, The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land, 89.
150 Smith Finley, The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in
Contemporary Xinjiang, 82-129.
Besides, it seems unfair to attribute to China all the blame for the tense situation in Xinjiang.
This is not to deny that, after decades of ethno-religious contestation, Uyghurs have accumu-
lated grievances, but not all of them are equally justified. Uyghurs rightly complain about
discrimination, but rarely mention that they benefit from affirmative action. Uyghurs often
cite Han migration to Xinjiang as a major grievance, and it is true that, in the 1950s and
1960s, the demographic status of Uyghurs in Xinjiang declined from that of an overwhelming
majority to the largest ethnic group, followed by the Han. However, census data shows that
the population share of Xinjiang’s Han has levelled off in the early 1980s. For the last 30
years, higher reproduction rates among Uyghurs have offset the net influx of Han migrants.151
Critics may retort that self-determination is the answer to the “Uyghur question”. Or is it?
Realistically speaking, the result of self-determination might be the Uyghurs (47 percent of
Xinjiang’s population) turning the tables against the Han (38 percent), with other minorities
caught in the middle. What is more, it is debatable how much if anything the Uyghurs would
benefit from self-determination. Ordinary Muslims in post-Soviet Central Asian republics
such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are hardly better off than the Uyghurs in China.
As suggested at the very beginning of this article, maintaining stability in a Muslim-majority
area like Xinjiang is genuinely difficult for a non-Muslim country. Situations like Indian
Kashmir and the Russian North Caucasus are important cases in point. Western countries in-
creasingly face growing Muslim minorities in urban areas. Will they fare any better than Chi-
na once there are Muslim majorities on significant parts of their territory?
151 Statistics Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang tongji nianjian (Xinjiang Statistical
Yearbook), Tables 3-3 and 3-8. Like elsewhere in China, there is a significant number of undocumented internal
migrants, called “self-drifters”, but Chinese authorities by definition do not directly control their influx and their
numbers are unknown.
Unlike comparable situations abroad, China’s non-Muslim Han majority remains in control.
As we have seen, despite some problems this is clearly the case in the political and economic
sphere. Only in the societal sphere, Uyghurs increasingly set the terms of the relationship. For
example, Uyghurs appear to be more xenophobic and opposed to intermarriage than Han.
Even so, there is little solidarity between China’s diverse Muslim minorities, and least of all
between the two largest ethnic groups, the Uyghurs and the Hui. China’s informal socio-
spatial hierarchy of minorities persists, as well as the ancient imperial legacy of yiyi zhiyi.
Al-Sudairi, Mohammed Turki A. "Adhering to the Ways of Our Western Brothers: Tracing
Saudi Influences on the Development of Hui Salafism in China." Sociology of Islam 4,
no. 1 (2016): 27-58.
Atwill, David G. The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in
Southwest China, 1856-1873. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.
Authors' Collective. Huizu Jianshi (Brief History of the Hui Nationality). Beijing: Ethnic
Publishing House, 2009.
Beech, Hannah. "If China Is Anti-Islam, Why Are These Chinese Muslims Enjoying a Faith
Revival?" Time, 12 August 2014.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó. "The “Gateway to the Western Regions”: State-Society Relations and
Differentiating Uighur Marginality in China’s Northwest." edited by Zsombor Rajkai
and Ildikó Bellér-Hann, 203-222. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012, 203-222.
———. "Temperamental Neighbours: Uighur-Han Relations in Xinjiang, Northwest China."
In Imagined Differences: Hatred and the Construction of Identity, edited by Günther
Schlee, 57-81. Hamburg: LIT, 2002, 57-81.
Benite, Zvi Ben-Dor. The Dao of Muhammad: A Cultural History of Muslims in Late
Imperial China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2005.
Benson, Linda. "Education and Social Mobility among Minority Populations in Xinjiang." In
Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland, edited by S. Frederick Starr, 190-215. Armonk,
NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2004, 190-215.
———. The Ili Rebellion: The Moslem Challenge to Chinese Authority in Xingjiang, 1944-
1949. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1990.
Benson, Linda, and Ingvar Svanberg. China's Last Nomads: The History and Culture of
China's Kazaks. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998.
Blum, Susan D. Portraits of "Primitives": Ordering Human Kinds in the Chinese Nation.
Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001.
Bovingdon, Gardner. "Heteronomy and Its Discontents: "Minzu Regional Autonomy" in
Xinjiang." In Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers, edited by Morris Rossabi,
117-154. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004, 117-154.
———. The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land. New York: Columbia University Press,
Butera, Rachel, and Thierry Warin. "Chinese Interethnic Marriage: Passion or Rational
Choice?" International Journal of Economics and Business Research 4, no. 6 (2012):
Cao, Huhua. "Urban-Rural Income Disparity and Urbanization: What Is the Role of Spatial
Distribution of Ethnic Groups? A Case Study of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous
Region in Western China." Regional Studies 44, no. 8 (2010): 965-982.
CCP. "Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Document No. 7: Record of the
Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party
Concerning the Maintenance of Stability in Xinjiang." Human Rights Watch 10, no. 1
[C] (1996): 10-14.
Chuah, Osman. "Muslims in China: The Social and Economic Situation of the Hui Chinese."
Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 24, no. 1 (2004): 155-162.
Clarke, Michael E. "China's Internal Security Dilemma and the "Great Western
Development": The Dynamics of Integration, Ethnic Nationalism and Terrorism in
Xinjiang." Asian Studies Review 31, no. 3 (2007): 323-342.
———. Xinjiang and China's Rise in Central Asia: A History. London: Routledge, 2011.
Cohen, Danielle F.S. "Minority Births under China's One-Child Policy. Paper Presented at
the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Toronto, Canada." 2014.
Cooke, Susette. "Surviving State and Society in Northwest China: The Hui Experience in
Qinghai Province under the Prc." Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 28, no. 3 (2008):
Côté, Isabelle. "The Enemies Within: Targeting Han Chinese and Hui Minorities in
Xinjiang." Asian Ethnicity 16, no. 2 (2015): 136-151.
Department of Population and Employment Statistics of National Bureau of Statistics of
China, and Department of Economic Development of the State Ethnic Affairs
Commission. Zhongguo 2010nian Renkoupucha Fenminzu Renkouziliao (Tabulation
on Nationalities of the 2010 Population Census of China). Beijing: Minzu chubanshe
(Ethnic Publishing House), 2013.
Dillon, Michael. China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects.
Richmond, UK: Curzon, 1999.
———. China's Muslims. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1996.
———. Xinjiang: China's Muslim Far Northwest. London: Routledge, 2004.
Erie, Matthew S. China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law. New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2016.
Forbes, Andrew D. W. Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of
Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Frankel, James D. "'Apoliticization': One Facet of Chinese Islam." Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs 28, no. 3 (2008): 421-434.
———. "Chinese-Islamic Connections: An Historical and Contemporary Overview." Journal
of Muslim Minority Affairs 36, no. 4 (2016): 569-583.
———. Rectifying God's Name: Liu Zhi's Confucian Translation of Monotheism and Islamic
Law. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011.
Fuller, Graham E., and Jonathan N. Lipman. "Islam in Xinjiang." In Xinjiang: China's
Muslim Borderland, edited by S. Frederick Starr, 320-352. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe,
Gillette, Maris. Between Mecca and Beijing: Modernization and Consumption among Urban
Chinese Muslims. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.
———. "Violence, the State, and a Chinese Muslim Ritual Remembrance." Journal of Asian
Studies 67, no. 3 (2008): 1011-1037.
Gladney, Dru C. Dislocating China: Reflections on Muslims, Minorities, and Other Subaltern
Subjects. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
———. "Islam in China: Accommodation or Separatism?" China Quarterly 174 (2003): 451-
———. "Islam in China: State Policing and Identity Politics." In Making Religion, Making
the State, edited by Yoshiko Ashiwa and David L. Wank, 151-178. Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press, 2009, 151-178.
———. Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic. 2nd ed. Cambridge,
MA: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
———. "Salman Rushdie in China: Religion, Ethnicity, and State Definition in the People’s
Republic." In Asian Visions of Authority: Religion and Modern States of East and
Southeast Asia, edited by Charles F. Keyes, Laurel Kendall and Helen Hardacre, 255-
278. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994, 255-278.
Grose, Timothy A. "(Re)Embracing Islam in Neidi: The 'Xinjiang Class' and the Dynamics of
Uyghur Ethno-National Identity." Journal of Contemporary China 24, no. 91 (2015):
———. "The Xinjiang Class: Education, Integration, and the Uyghurs." Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs 31, no. 1 (2010): 97-109.
Haider, Ziad. "Sino-Pakistan Relations and Xinjiang's Uighurs: Politics, Trade, and Islam
Along the Karakoram Highway." Asian Survey 45, no. 4 (2005): 522-545.
Han, Enze. "Boundaries, Discrimination, and Interethnic Conflict in Xinjiang, China."
International Journal of Conflict and Violence 4, no. 2 (2010): 244-256.
———. Contestation and Adaptation: The Politics of National Identity in China. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2013.
Hann, Chris. "Laiklik and Legitimation in Rural Eastern Xinjiang." In Varieties of Secularism
in Asia: Anthropological Explorations in Religion, Politics and the Spiritual, edited
by Nils Bubandt and Martin van Beek, 121-241. London: Routledge, 2012, 121-241.
Harrell, Stevan, ed. Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers. Seattle: University of
Washington Press, 1995.
Hasmath, Reza. "The Education of Ethnic Minorities in Beijing." Ethnic and Racial Studies
34, no. 11 (2011): 1835-1854.
———. "Managing China's Muslim Minorities: Migration, Labour and the Rise of Ethno-
Religious Consciousness among Uyghurs in Urban Xinjiang." In Religion and the
State: A Comparative Sociology, edited by Jack Barbalet, Adam Possamai and Bryan
Turner, 121-137. New York: Anthem Press, 2011, 121-137.
Hernández, Javier C. "China Acknowledges Killing 28 People; Accuses Them of Role in
Mine Attack." New York Times, 20 November 2015.
———. "China Says 5 Killed in Attack at Communist Party Office in Xinjiang." New York
Times, 30 December 2016.
Hess, Stephen E. "Islam, Local Elites, and China's Missteps in Integrating the Uyghur
Nation." USAK Yearbook 3 (2010): 407-428.
Ho, Wai-Yip. "Mobilizing the Muslim Minority for China's Development: Hui Muslims,
Ethnic Relations and Sino-Arab Connections." Journal of Comparative Asian
Development 12, no. 1 (2013): 84-112.
Hsing, I-tien. "Handai De Yiyizhiyilun (the Theory of ‘Using Barbarians to Control
Barbarians’ in the Han Dynasty)." Shiyuan (Journal of Historical Review) 5, no. 2
Hyer, Eric. "China's Policy Towards Uighur Nationalism." Journal of Muslim Minority
Affairs 26, no. 1 (2006): 75-86.
Israeli, Raphael. Islam in China: Religion, Ethnicity, Culture, and Politics. Lanham, MD:
Lexington Books, 2002.
Jacobs, Andrew. "Court Sentences 2 Teenagers to Death in Killing of an Islamic Cleric." New
York Times, 29 September 2014.
———. "Light Government Touch Lets China's Hui Practice Islam in the Open." New York
Times, 2 February 2016.
———. "Nearly 100 Reported Killed in Week of Unrest in China." New York Times, 3
———. "Uyghurs in China Say Bias Is Growing." New York Times, 8 October 2013.
Jaschok, Maria, and Jingjun Shui. The History of Women’s Mosques in Chinese Islam: A
Mosque of Their Own. Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2000.
Karrar, Hasan H. "Merchants, Markets, and the State: Informality, Transnationality, and
Spatial Imaginaries in the Revival of Central Eurasian Trade." Critical Asian Studies
45, no. 3 (2013): 459-480.
Ke, Fan. "Maritime Muslims and Hui Identity: A South Fujian Case." Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs 21, no. 2 (2001): 309-332.
———. "Ups and Downs: Local Muslim History in South China." Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs 23, no. 1 (2003): 63-87.
Kim, Hodong. Holy War in China: The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia,
1864-1877. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.
Kuo, Kendrick T. "Revisiting the Salafi-Jihadist Threat in Xinjiang." Journal of Muslim
Minority Affairs 32, no. 4 (2012): 528-544.
Legge, James. The Chinese Classics. Vol. 3. Hongkong and London: Trübner & Co., 1865.
Leibold, James. "Xinjiang Work Forum Marks New Policy of 'Ethnic Mingling'." China Brief
14, no. 12 (2014): 3-6.
Leibold, James, and Timothy A. Grose. "Veiling in Xinjiang: The Political and Societal
Struggle to Define Uyghur Female Adornment." China Journal, no. 76 (2016): 78-
Leung, Beatrice. "China's Religious Freedom Policy: The Art of Managing Religious
Activity." China Quarterly 184 (2005): 894-913.
Li, Cheng. "Ethnic Minority Elites in China's Party-State Leadership: An Empirical
Assessment." China Leadership Monitor 25 (2005).
Li, Xiaoxia. "Xinjiang Nanbu Nongcun Weihantonghun Diaocha (Investigation on
Intermarriage between Uyghurs and Han in Rural Areas of Southern Xinjiang)."
Xinjiang shehuikexue (Social Sciences in Xinjiang) 179, no. 4 (2012): 59-66.
———. "Zhongguo Ge Minzu Jian Zuji Hunyin De Xianzhuang Fenxi (Analysis of the
Current State of Inter-Ethnic Marriage among Different Chinese Ethnic Groups)."
Renkou yanjiu (Population Research) 28, no. 3 (2004): 68-75.
Lipman, Jonathan. Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the
17h to the 21st Century. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016.
Lipman, Jonathan N. Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China. Seattle:
University of Washington Press, 1997.
———. "White Hats, Oil Cakes, and Common Blood: The Hui in the Contemporary Chinese
State." In Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers, edited by Morris Rossabi, 19-52.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004, 19-52.
Liu, Zhongyi, and Li Zhang. "Zhongguo Zujihunyin De Bianhua Queshi Yanjiu: Jiyu 'Wupu'
He 'Liupu' Shuju De Duibifenxi (a Study on Changing Trends in China's Inter-Ethnic
Marriage: Based on the Comparison of Data from the Fifth and Sixth Census)."
Guangxi minzuyanjiu (Guangxi Ethnic Studies) 123, no. 3 (2015): 61-71.
Ma, Rong. "Xinjiang Minzujiaoyu De Fazhan Yu Shuangyujiaoyu De Shijian (Minority
Education and the Practice of Bilingual Teaching in Xinjiang)." Beijingdaxue
jiaoyupinglun (Peking University Education Review) 6, no. 2 (2008): 2-41.
Ma, Rosey Wang. "The Silent March: Unveiling the Gentle Power Behind the Consolidation
of Islam in the Western Region of China." World Journal of Islamic History and
Civilization 2, no. 2 (2012): 108-115.
Mackerras, Colin. "Some Issues of Ethnic and Religious Identity among China's Islamic
Peoples." Asian Ethnicity 6, no. 1 (2005): 3-18.
———. "Xinjiang in 2013: Problems and Prospects." Asian Ethnicity 15, no. 2 (2014): 247-
———. "Xinjiang in China's Foreign Relations: Part of a New Silk Road or Central Asian
Zone of Conflict?" East Asia 32, no. 1 (2015): 25-42.
McCarthy, Susan K. Communist Multiculturalism: Ethnic Revival in Southwest China.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009.
Millward, James A. Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. London: Hurst, 2007.
National Bureau of Statistics of China. Tabulation on the 2010 Population Census of the
People's Republic of China. Beijing: China Statistics Press, 2013.
Nechepurenko, Ivan. "Bomber Strikes Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan." New York Times, 31
Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, Svetlana. Soviet Dungans in 1985: Birthdays, Weddings, Funerals
and Kolkhoz Life. Taipei: Center for Chinese Studies, 1991.
Roberts, Sean R. "A "Land of Borderlands": Implications of Xinjiang's Trans-Border
Interactions." In Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland, edited by S. Frederick Starr,
216-237. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2004, 216-237.
Rossabi, Morris. "Muslim and Central Asian Revolts." In From Ming to Ch'ing: Conquest,
Region, and Continuity in Seventeenth Century China, edited by Jonathan D. Spence
and John E. Wills, 167-199. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979, 167-199.
Rudelson, Justin Jon. Oasis Identities: Uyghur Nationalism Along China's Silk Road. New
York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
Sautman, Barry. "Is Xinjiang an Internal Colony?" Inner Asia 2, no. 2 (2000): 239-271.
———. "Preferential Policies for Ethnic Minorities in China: The Case of Xinjiang."
Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 4, no. 1 (2005): 86-118.
Shichor, Yitzhak. "Blow Up: Internal and External Challenges of Uyghur Separatism and
Islamic Radicalism to Chinese Rule in Xinjiang." Asian Affairs 32, no. 2 (2005): 119-
Smith Finley, Joanne. The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han
Relations in Contemporary Xinjiang. Leiden: Brill, 2013.
Smith, Joanne N. ""Making Culture Matter": Symbolic, Spatial and Social Boundaries
between Uyghurs and Han Chinese." Asian Ethnicity 3, no. 2 (2002): 153-174.
Smith, Richard J. Chinese Maps: Images of "All under Heaven". Hong Kong: Oxford
University Press, 1996.
State Administration for Religious Affairs. "2015 Chaojingongzuozongtuan Ping’an Fanhui
Guonei, Jinnian Chaojinzuzhigongzuo Yuanmanjieshu (2015 Hajj Mission Safely
Returned and the Organization of Hajj in 2015 Finished Successfully)." 21 October
———. "Ningxiayinhang Huozhun Shidian Kaiban Yisilan Yinhangyewu (Hajj Work in
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Has Been Well Prepared)." 31 August 2015.
Statistics Bureau of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Ningxia Tongji Nianjian (Ningxia
Statistical Yearbook). Beijing: China Statistics Press, 2014.
Statistics Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang Tongji Nianjian
(Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook). Beijing: China Statistics Press, 2014.
Stewart, Alexander Blair. Chinese Muslims and the Global Ummah: Islamic Revival and
Ethnic Identity among the Hui of Qinghai Province. London: Routledge, 2017.
Taynen, Jennifer. "Interpreters, Arbiters or Outsiders: The Role of the Min Kao Han in
Xinjiang Society." Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 26, no. 1 (2006): 45-62.
Tontoni, Roberta. Muslim Sanzijing: Shifts and Continuities in the Definition of Islam in
China. Leiden: Brill, 2016.
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. 2016 Annual Report. Washington, DC:
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2016.
———. Annual Report 2012. Washington, DC: U.S. Commission on International Religious
Veer, Peter van der. "Nationalism and Religion." In The Oxford Handbook of the History of
Nationalism, edited by John Breuilli, 655-671. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013,
Waite, Edmund. "The Impact of the State on Islam Amongst the Uyghurs: Religious
Knowledge and Authority in the Kashgar Oasis." Central Asian Survey 25, no. 3
Wayne, Martin I. China's War on Terrorism: Counter-Insurgency, Politics and Internal
Security. London: Routledge, 2008.
Welcome to Islam. "Beijingshi Qingzhensi (Mosques of Beijing)."
Wong, Edward. "China Offers Incentives to Intermarry in Xinjiang." International New York
Times, 3 September 2014.
———. "China Police Pulls Passports in Some Parts of Xinjiang." New York Times, 2
———. "Xinjiang, Tense Chinese Region, Adopts Strict Internet Controls." New York Times,
10 December 2016.
Wong, How Man, and Adel Awni Dajani. Islamic Frontiers of China: Peoples of the Silk
Road. London: I.B. Tauris, 2011.
Xinhua. "Ningxia Yuanjing: Sheli Yisilan Jinrongzhongxin (Ningxia Vision: The
Establishment of an Islamic Financial Centre)." 26 November 2012.
———. "Ningxiayinhang Huozhun Shidian Kaiban Yisilan Yinhangyewu (Ningxia Bank
Has Been Officially Approved to Establish Its Pilot Islamic Banking Services)." 25
———. "Xijinping Zai Di’erci Zhongyangxinjianggongzuozuotanhuishang Fabiao
Zhongyaojianghua (Xi Jinping Delivered an Important Speech in the Second Xinjiang
Work Seminar of the Cccpc)." 30 May 2014.
Xinjiang Ethnic Affairs Commission. "Xinjiang Youzuzhi Chaojingongzuo Wenbutuijin
(Organized Hajj Work in Xinjiang Is Moving Forward Steadily." 3 July 2015.
Yang, Zhijuan. "Zuqunrentong Yu Minzu De Jieding: Yi Huizu Weili (National Identity and
the Demarcation of a Nation: A Case Study of Hui)." Huizu yanjiu (Journal of Hui
Muslim Minority Studies) 40, no. 4 (2000): 4-8.
Yongjin, Zhang, and Barry Buzan. "The Tributary System as International Society in Theory
and Practice." Chinese Journal of International Politics 5, no. 1 (2012): 3-36.
Zang, Xiaowei. Ethnicity and Urban Life in China: A Comparative Study of Hui Muslims and
Han Chinese. London: Routledge, 2007.
———. "Hui Muslim - Han Chinese Differences in Perceptions on Endogamy in Urban
China." Asian Ethnicity 6, no. 1 (2005): 51-68.
———. "Uyghur-Han Earnings Differentials in Ürümchi." China Journal 65 (2011): 141-
Zhu, Yuchao, and Dongyan Blachford. "Economic Expansion, Marketization, and Their
Social Impact on China's Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet." Asian Survey 52,
no. 4 (2012): 714-733.