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China is not eradicating Islam

The following is a collective of evidence by @isgoodrum

This includes the right to religious expression. There are Buddhists, Taoists, Christians, Muslims and Jews in China, as well as practitioners of folk religions. The constitution gives protection to these groups, despite the PRC’s status as an atheist state.

Owing to the gap in development between minority groups (who make up about 8.5 percent of the population) and the majority Han people, the government has enshrined special rights into law for those groups. They are as follows.


Preferential policies include equal representation in government —in some cases, in excess of the population share — state-sanctioned use of ethnic minority languages in courts and media, and protection of indigenous customs.


Language development has been key. Shortly after its founding, the PRC spearheaded efforts to standardize scripts and alphabets for local languages.


This extends to the school system, where bilingual education creates an immersive environment for minority children to learn Mandarin, the country’s lingua franca.


As minority children mostly speak indigenous tongues at home, in practice this means classes are largely in Mandarin. The study of Uyghur or Tibetan, for example, would be similar to a foreign language class in the West.


Ethnic minorities have been given greater freedom than the majority Han people when it comes to family planning and the one-child policy. Officially, minority group families were allowed two children, but in many rural areas there are even higher limits.

This thread isn’t about Tibet, but family planning policy has been incredibly lax for Tibetans in their autonomous region — a strange thing a country would do for an ethnic group Westerners claim the CPC sees as a threat.


As a result of these policies, the total population of ethnic minority groups has increased since the establishment of the PRC, as has their share of the population.


Where religious freedom is concerned, a bevy of laws protects the expression of religious belief, as well as discrimination on the basis of religion.


Specifically in Xinjiang, thousands of mosques operate, as do many Islamic schools. Support is given to the publishing and translation of religious books.


Solidarity with Muslims within the party is encouraged through participation in religious events like the Hajj, and meetings between officials and religious groups are common.


Major institutions exist to train and educate students — mostly Uyghurs — in Islam. You can see for yourself here.


The principle of ethnic unity is paramount in China, so special care is taken to emphasize its importance. This is why separatism is a matter of deep concern to the government. More on that later.


Along with these protections, the party and government have prioritized economic development in minority areas, which historically have been behind more populated regions of the country when it comes to industrialization and modernization.
Through infrastructure building, investment and trade, the fortunes of impoverished western regions of the country have skyrocketed, though there is still a long way to go.

The PRC’s unbelievably successful poverty alleviation campaign has not found an exception in minority regions. Medical care has also improved exponentially. Now growth in these areas outstrips the national rate.

I have specific economic development figures for Xinjiang I can post if people are interested, but this thread is already gonna be a million tweets long so I’ll keep it separate.
Now, the reason why people have been up in arms about China’s treatment of Muslims stems from counter-terrorism measures instituted in Xinjiang after a series of attacks in the region. Here’s a small sample of the violence.



This does not include the riots which rocked Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in 2009, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Without getting into too much detail, there are Uyghur separatist groups determined to break the region away from China, and resort to terrorism to do so.
Some receive training in Syria and elsewhere, linking up with larger extremist movements.

Western reports dismiss this phenomenon, claiming attacks are a result of China’s policies rather than organized terrorist groups, often citing the separatists themselves. I question the wisdom of taking violent extremists at their word, but whatever. Let’s look at the facts.
There is no doubt China has heightened security for at-risk areas — particularly in Xinjiang, where the majority of terrorist attacks have taken place. But even within the autonomous region, severity of implementation varies depending on threat level.
For example, the restive prefecture of Kashgar has heavier surveillance and stricter controls than Turpan. This is due to the former’s more conservative religious traditions and its current status as a hotbed of anti-China sentiment.


But in Turpan, a far greater degree of religious freedom exists — because the prefecture isn’t seen as a security risk.


This has resulted in better relations between Uyghur and Han people in Turpan, and serves as an example of how things could function throughout the autonomous region. Ideally minus the poverty.


Outside of Xinjiang, another ethnic group of Chinese Muslims has even more freedom, as there is no meaningful history of separatist sentiment or extremism among them — the Hui people.
Hui Muslims are just as devout as Uyghurs, yet we are not seeing a greater deployment of security personnel or any crackdown on what the government sees as extremist religious practice.

In fact, the Hui are treated as a “model minority,” an example to the rest of theMuslim world — Xinjiang included — as symbols of moderation and peace.


More information on the Hui from a different Western source.

I doubt very much the government would allow a massive project like this if their mission was an end to Islam in China. But what do I know?


Similar enterprises exist in Xinjiang, too. The region is exporting its traditional culture, with encouragement from the state. Strange thing for a country to do if the goal is assimilation.


These values are reflected in papers meant mostly for internal consumption. This isn’t a private document, but it IS little-read outside of CPC members and people in the West doing serious research. Forgive translation errors — my Chinese is still elementary so I used software.
“Crossing the streets and killing everyone” is a mistranslation of “when rats run on streets, everyone shouts ‘Kill them!’” This is an old expression relating to killing disease-carrying rats when spotted — equating terrorists to safety risks all must mobilize against.

Even in this paper, published in a party journal, care is taken to distinguish between extremists and normal practitioners of religion.


Note the emphasis on development and poverty reduction. This is in line with other government directives.


You can ignore most of the first paragraph in the Foreign Ministry’s answer if you want (it’s pretty boilerplate), but the second paragraph, especially the last two sentences, is important. This is the government’s attitude.


As I said, the ramping up of security in high-threat areas is well-documented. But the nature of that escalation is rarely laid out accurately — as a response to terror attacks, and as a multi-faceted program of policing.
Adrian Zenz has his biases (as do we all), but his reports, when actually read, offer a fair assessment of the situation. The increased police presence includes “convenience stations,” facilities with a variety of services.


In addition to hiring more personnel, through this measure the government has widened the functions of police stations, following a “community-based policing” model many departments around the world are emulating now.
You can take a deep dive into the police recruitment numbers here. The first two “tiers” are regular police and local security forces, respectively. The third tier is assistant police staff.


This enhancement of the police force has been accompanied by a far-reaching education system, where local Islamic schools have poured funding into antiextremism classes. Local officials also make visits to high-risk households accompanied by religious leaders.

Party officials take their educational responsibilities seriously. Again, note a lack of blame placed on Muslims as a whole — only extremists are singled out.


Education has extended to the public as well, with efforts to mobilize populations to stay vigilant and on the lookout for terrorist suspects.


Horror stories have been making the rounds in the Western press on this program of counter-terrorism and education. The common refrain is, as I implied with my first post, the eradication of Islam in China.
Here’s why I have trouble with these widely publicized reports and videos.
Many people have already seen clips of “forced” drinking or marriage, with people arguing this is part of a larger push against Islam. I’ll take a look at these one by one.
First, the drinking. If you actually watch the videos, it should be obvious this isn’t a “forced” event. People don’t usually laugh and chat over a few beers or do drinking contests at gunpoint.


But it’s especially ridiculous when you know Xinjiang has a beer festival every year, to celebrate its home-brewed Wusu.


As for “forced” marriage between Uyghur and Han people, there’s no evidence of this. All that can be found are government incentives for intermarriage. Not so sinister.


The guy who made the above thread sucks a lot, by the way. It’s incredible to see people citing his obvious lies with a straight face.
So people propagating that online are fools. Fair enough, we can ignore them. But this isn’t limited to Twitter activists who’ve hoodwinked enough people into giving them a platform — it’s happening in major media outlets, too.
Take as example this widely referenced editorial in the New York Times. The author writes about “forced dance performances,” and links to a Xinhua news article about it.


They’re counting on you not clicking the link, or trying to translate it — this is a story about a friendly dance competition the local government sponsored, another way China is curbing extremism and building trust in communities. Nothing in the story to suggest it’s “forced.”
This deceptive reporting saps credibility from Western sources on the issue.
To be fair, it’s undeniable there is anti-Islamic sentiment in China. Members of the majority Han people are resentful of what they perceive as unfair advantages for Muslims in a system which gives minority groups the privileges I laid out earlier.


Editorials in the notoriously nationalistic Global Times confirm this attitude.


But this doesn’t translate into government policy. Oddly enough, you can find proof of this in the pages of the Global Times.


In fact, in recent years there’s been a debate in academic and policy circles about the future of ethnic policy in China. Some ARE arguing for a greater degree of assimilation as a way of maintaining national unity.


This didn’t catch on, however. Rival academics soon put the kibosh on this idea, and the system of enhanced privileges and separate institutions has been maintained with little signs of stopping.


Chinese officials are in a difficult situation — suppress Islam and stoke religious resentment, or relax controls and enhance Muslims’ feelings of separation from the Chinese nation as a whole.


The presence of separatists and extremists complicates the issue. Commitment to either path could result in disaster, so the present course is an attempt to split the difference and snuff out terrorism without an all-encompassing anti-Islam pogrom.
My conclusion: Detention of terror suspects, heightened security, a “hearts and minds” program of mass education and mobilization — this is not a plot to exterminate the practitioners of a religion, it’s a standard counter-insurgency campaign.
As I’ve shown, controls are tighter in areas with a history of unrest, and looser in places with lower extremist or separatist sentiment. This variance can’t be explained as a concerted effort to target all Muslims.
We can talk about excesses or overreach on the part of local authorities, but what we cannot do is claim an agenda of ethnic or religious cleansing when the facts tell us otherwise. It’s irresponsible and feeds into a broader, false narrative about China.

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