China's Good Muslims: The Hui
Adams, Luke A.
Cha, Victor D.
In this paper, I answer why the People’s Republic of China (PRC) allows Hui Muslims relative freedom to practice and participate in religious activities, despite the Chinese Communist Party’s wariness of religion–particularly foreign religions, and despite the Chinese Communist Party’s rhetoric promoting the eventual demise of religion in favor of atheist ideology. I begin with two plausible explanations for why the CCP treats Hui differently than other groups: First, I demonstrate China’s tendency to conflate ethnic and religious identities with separatism; and second, I will show the CCP’s ability to use Hui Islam and Hui Muslims for its own benefit. Each play important roles in the Chinese government’s treatment of the Hui compared to other religious groups. I review each of these plausible explanations and indicate why they are only a piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, I argue that the primary reason for the Chinese government to allow Hui Muslims greater freedom of practice is the successful and ongoing political sinicization of Hui Muslims. To conclude, I offer my thoughts on the outlook for Hui Muslims in a context of growing anxiety over the connection between Islam and terrorism in China.In answering this question, I hope to make clear the intentions of the CCP towards Islam, and general trends to explain why certain religions are given more freedom than others. This piece is particularly relevant to organizations working in the fields of religious freedom and human rights in China. Inaccurate criticism has the potential to delegitimize any other valid criticisms we make. By understanding the nuances of Chinese policy and attitude toward religion, we can unpack the goals and intentions of the Chinese government and the insecurities those goals address. Knowing these insecurities can help such organizations work for human rights and religious freedom in China in ways that both acknowledge the insecurities of the Communist Party, and advocate on behalf of religious groups suffering as a result of these insecurities.
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