The history of Islam in China goes back to the year 748 with the Islamic conquest at the Talas River valley in what is today Kyrgyzstan. Owing to the relative proximity of the valley to China and the tremendous influence of the Turkic peoples, who gradually and voluntarily converted to Islam over a period of centuries, Islam naturally spread into the Turkic majority area of China and has had followers in China for centuries. While a minority at about 22 million, many of them make up the Uighur ethnic group and mostly live in Xinjiang as well as in enclaves scattered around the nation.
Yet it is in this area that the government is stripping the most open expressions of Islam, where most residents are Muslims. Chinese Communist authorities have destroyed mosques throughout the nation including in areas such as Henan Province, Ningxia Province, Yunnan Province, and Inner Mongolia in addition to Xijiang. Likewise, officials have banned the public use of Arabic script in most contexts.
The aggressive approach that the Communist Chinese have taken have turned them into the foremost propagator and supporter of opposition to Islam, which they have said in being done in the name of ‘stopping terrorism’. However, little has been presented to demonstrate that such “terrorism” claims have been stopped, and what dominated is that the Communist government has used this to grant itself a license for the justification of open state brutality, mass detentions, and invasive surveillance as well as a massive rollback of individual freedoms, religious freedoms, and a strict reinforcement of Communism and its ideology in all parts of life.
The situation began in 2015 when President Xi first raised the issue of what he called the “Sinicization of Islam,” meaning that saying all religions in China should be subordinate to Chinese culture and the Communist Party. This is simply a modern a Sinicized articulation of many of the demands of the Protestant Revolutionaries and the governments who backed them during the 16th century as well as many of the justifications for the Schism of 1054, which in spite of the claims of “tradition”, is simply using a moribund approach to rigid traditionalism to cover for the ultimate submission of religious authority to that of tribal governance for a particular people to justify their actions that in spite of late de jure proclamations against it oppose the de facto reality that has persisted for centuries and demonstrated by historical record.
The Chines government issued a directive titled “Reinforcing and Improving Islam Work in the New Situation,” yet the full text of this has not been made public and classified as confidential for 20 years. However, according to those who have seen it,
The directive warns against the Arabization of Islamic places, fashions and rituals in China, singling out the influence of Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam s holiest sites, as a cause for concern.
It prohibits the use of the Islamic financial system. It bars mosques or other private Islamic organizations from organizing kindergartens or after-school programs, and it forbids Arabic-language schools to teach religion or send students abroad to study.
In Ningxia, the provincial government banned public displays of Arabic script, even removing the word halal from the official seal it distributes to restaurants that follow Islamic customs for preparing food. The seals now use Chinese characters. That prohibition spread this summer to Beijing and elsewhere. (source)
Likewise, the Chinese police have taken to regularly raiding mosques and sending in spies. One such example was in the southern province of Yunnan, where there have long been Hui communities, authorities last December padlocked mosques in three small villages that they claimed were being run without official permission. After protests and brief scuffles with police, to no avail, the county issued a statement accusing the mosques of holding illegal religious activities and classes.
The approach which the Chinese government has taken to religion is not unlike the approach being used by the counter-jihad movement, which advocates for many of such measures in the western world, but to little or no avail. Interestingly, such measures are taken up by politicians who, usually not being able to realize such ends, inevitability result in promoting local or regional nationalism instead and later, such calls begin to be parlayed into calls for militarism for the alleged benefit of society.
The Chinese war against Islam is not something good or praiseworthy, and it does not show that China is taking a “strong stance” against the religion, but it is being used as a cover for advancing enhanced state control over all people. It is also being used as a reason to crack down on Christians and accuse them of being “unpatriotic,” and in doing do to close churches, persecute Christians, and engage in all other forms of harassment and violence.
The irony of the situation is that the counter-jihad movement tends either to praise China, or to remain silent when China does these things, yet at the same time she will openly talk about Muslims harassing Christians in other parts of the world. While it is good to talk about the abuse that Christians suffer, the fact that the movement would be silent or defend Chinese nationalism as a response to the claims of Islamic aggression, and the same aggression that is being used to persecute Chinese Christians is proof that the movement does not care at all about the good will of the Christian people that they claim to “expose,” nor does it help with bringing about a real solution to the conflict, which is ultimately found in the conversion of Muslims. Rather, it only serves to bolster nationalistic sentiments and call for a military response, which amounts to using the inherent dysfunction of Islam as a political too to make money for financial, industrial, and technological interests and contractors in the military-industrial complex who do not care about stopping Islam, but believe that they can become divine in the creation of a new Tower of Babel and that human beings are their pieces in a game of chess.
It is good to oppose Islam, but not at the expense of the humanity of the Muslims or principle, for doing that is just evil but in a different form.