After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, particularly since China’s reform and opening-up, China has fully implemented policies assuring religious freedom.
The Communist Party of China has safeguarded the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese Islamic community. The religious activities of Muslims from different ethnic groups are protected by law and carried out in an orderly manner. At present, there are more than 20 million Muslims and 10 Islamic colleges and universities in China. The facilities of mosques and the academic training of Islamic clerical personnel have been continuously improved, meeting the normal religious needs and beliefs of the Muslim people. This is an undeniable fact.
Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region upholds the constitutional principle of guaranteeing citizens’ religious freedoms. No one is allowed to create dispute between believers and non-believers. China always insists that all religions are equal. Legitimate rights and interests of religious circles are secured in accordance with the laws.
Since the introduction of Islam into China in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the faith has embraced Chinese traditional cultural features. As such, it has seen a unique syncretic form of Islam with Chinese characteristics evolve over the centuries.
Islam and all other religions in China coexist harmoniously. Indeed, the Muslim community lives in harmony with all other communities. China’s Islamic community publishes religious classics according to law to meet the religious needs of Muslims. The community has translated and published the Koran and other Islamic classics into Putonghua and other languages such as Uygur, Kazakh, and Kirgiz. Seven volumes of The New Collection of Waez’s Speeches series have been compiled and printed with a total circulation of over 1.76 million volumes.
In recent years, Xinjiang has published a series of books about religious knowledge in various ethnic minority languages. It has also strengthened service management and markedly improved living conditions in mosques.
The religious activities of Muslims in mosques and at home are personal affairs protected by laws. Since 1996, Chinese government has annually organized hajj trips with charter flights for about a yearly average of 10,000 Muslims with high-quality services to ensure their security. Up to now, at least 50,000 Muslims of different ethnic groups from Xinjiang have made the sacred hajj trips to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The Chinese central government has established 10 Islamic institutions of higher learning, including the Beijing-based China Islamic Institute and the Xinjiang Islamic Institute. These have seen more than 4,000 students graduate with master’s, bachelor’s, junior college, and technical high school degrees.
China’s Islamic circles have conducted key international exchanges in religion. As such, they play an important role bridging China and other Islamic countries. The China Islamic Association participated in cultural activities respectively in Turkey in 2012 and Malaysia in 2014. Since 2001, Xinjiang Islamic Institute has successively selected more than 70 students and faculty members to study in universities abroad, such as Al-Azhar University in Egypt and International Islamic University, Islamabad in Pakistan. This allows them improve their religious knowledge at academic levels and actively build platforms for cultural and religious exchanges.
Since the 1990s, the terrorist, extremist and secessionist forces in China and abroad have colluded. They widely spread extremist ideas, brainwashed and recruited a small group of people – who did not know the truth and were manipulated to carry out violent, terrorist activities. Religious extremism and its corresponding violence have severely disrupted stability and peace in Xinjiang, trampling on the essential human rights of all people there.
The Chinese government will never allow anyone to engage in illegal and criminal activities under the guise of religion. It will crack down on them according to law. This is in full compliance with Chinese people’s will. Muslims of all ethnic groups in China firmly support the moves to uproot violence, terrorism, and secessionism. External interference will never be tolerated.
Recently, many anti-China forces in the West have spread rumors that China is restricting freedom of religion. They claim that religious rights of ethnic minority citizens are being denied. They further demonize China, saying it is forcibly demolishing mosques and persecuting religious people in Xinjiang. Such statements are nonsense and loaded with political prejudice. These accusations are a gross interference in China’s internal affairs. The Chinese Islamic community resolutely opposes it with strong indignation. We urge the US and other malicious overseas forces to respect facts. We call on them to stop meddling in China’s affairs under the guise of religion.
The author is head of the China Islamic Association.