Last week, The Guardian, New York Times, and other media outlets reported that Chinese authorities in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang Province will be offering cash incentives to promote inter-ethnic and inter-religious marriages. The cash reward will be offered to married couples in which one member is an ethnic minority and the other Han Chinese, and has been described by many as a further drive to assimilate Uighur Muslims into the dominant Chinese culture and away from their Islamic beliefs. The “big celebratory gift package” as it has been termed by Chinese officials includes annual cash payments of 10,000 Yuan (£980) for these inter-ethnic couples during the first 5 years of their marriage as well as privileged access to housing, healthcare, and education for their children. At a high-level forum on Xinjiang in May this year, China’s President, Xi Jinping called for new policies to better assimilate Uighur Muslims into mainstream Chinese society and culture. Chinese policy makers have even coined new terminology in relation to this strategy – “ethnic blending” or “fusion”. This process of social engineering through marriage is one offshoot of this scheme.
This latest policy of the repressive Chinese regime to socially engineer the demographic make-up of the Xinjiang population, is just the latest arm of its long-standing goal to make Uighur Muslims a minority in their own homeland and erase the Islamic culture and identity of the region. When Communist troops took control of Xinjiang in 1949, the Han Chinese population made up less than 7% of the population. Now they make up around 40%, with Uighur Muslims constituting around 45%. This has been the result of a Chinese strategy to settle millions of Han Chinese in the province over the years inorder to impose Chinese culture onto its Muslim population. This has been accompanied by decades of discriminatory policies against the Uighur minority, giving preference to the Han Chinese in employment, schooling, and other fields. There are even reports that the regime has been aiding Han immigrants with generous government subsidies such as providing grants for seeds and fertilisers and free farming equipment for Han farmers to aid them financially, giving them the competitive edge over Uighur farmers.
Additionally, the Chinese regime has implemented the most repressive policies upon the Uighur Muslims aimed at severely restricting Islamic practices and taking them away from their Islamic beliefs and heritage – all in an attempt to prevent the resurgence of Islam in the region. This includes placing bans on government employees and students fasting during Ramadan; prohibiting children and youth under the age of 18 from entering mosques or being taught the Qur’an in religious institutions; banning prayers at non-state sanctioned mosques and allowing the use of only state-approved translations of the Qur’an; forcing Uighur Muslim women to undergo abortions even when 9 months pregnant; and offering cash rewards to those reporting on people exhibiting certain religious behaviour including those wearing Islamic dress, men growing beards, and those getting married through Nikah. Additionally, in August this year, it was reported that Karamay, a city in the Xinjiang province, banned Muslim women who wear the khimar or niqab, as well as Muslim men with long beards from riding its local buses. The Chinese regime also controls the ‘Islamic Association of China’ that trains imams and religious teachers in the country. The organisation states openly as one of its duties and missions, to “cherish the motherland” and “unify Muslims in participating in the socialist construction of the motherland.”
Alongside all this, under the deceptive label of its ‘anti-terrorism’ crackdown, the Chinese government has been using surveillance drones to spy on the Uighur population and has arrested between 800 and 1000 Uighurs since this May alone. In addition, Chinese state media reported that around 100 Uighur Muslims were killed by state security forces on the 28th July in Yarkand in Chinese, Shache county, Xinjiang. Others however place the death toll of Muslims killed in this massacre into the hundreds.
In contrast to this oppressive reality facing the Uighurs today, the Muslims of China enjoyed a glorious history during the time of the Khilafah. It was the third Khalifah, Uthman bin Affan (ra) who sent the first delegation to China in 29 AH (651 CE), led by the great companion of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas (ra) to invite the Chinese emperor to Islam. Following this, through trading and engagement, many Muslims came to settle in China. During the rule of the Chinese dynasties, there were times when some of these Muslim settlers were oppressed by their Chinese rulers. However, due to the presence of the Khilafah, this mistreatment was met with a fierce response by the Khalifahs. One of the first wars of the Khilafah against the Chinese state was waged at the Chinese border in 133 AH. The Muslims were far less in number to their enemy but they delivered a great defeat on the Chinese. These early victories under the rule of the Khilafah enabled the Muslims to enter and spread Islam further into China, establishing many mosques and schools in the region and making some of the cities in which they settled internationally re-known centres of learning for the Deen. This included East Turkistan’s capital Kashgar as well as the city of Bukhara which was part of China at the time and that became known as “The Pillar of Islam”. It is re-establishing the Rule of Allah under the Khilafah once again that will ensure the Muslims of China enjoy protected lives under the shade of a system that will enable them to practice their Deen under the full security of the law. It is this State alone that will provide them with a future that was as glorious as their past.
Written for The Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz
Member of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir