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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Hui Muslims in China

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Date(s) Item
Apr 1990 A Chinese Muslim scholar visited Morocco and gave a talk at the Royal Palace on Muslim activities in China. He was also received by King Hassan II. Chinese Muslims celebrate the breaking of the Fast during the month of Ramadan. Bai Lichen, Chairman of the regional government and other leaders of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR) extended festival greetings to the Muslims in the regional capital of Yinchuan.
Jul 1990 Five Chinese Muslim pilgrims have been confirmed dead and four others are missing from the Mecca tunnel disaster in Saudi Arabia early this month. One of them is of Hui nationality, China Daily reports. Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen visits Saudi Arabia to finalize the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Replying to a reporter's question on the status of Muslims in the PRC, the Minister explained that some 16 million Muslims currently living in China enjoy religious freedom and the right to practice their religious rites. He also mentioned that there were more than 20,000 mosques in China for conducting religious activities (BBC World Report, 7/24/90).
Jan 1991 A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman says that Chinese Muslims support the government position on the Gulf war.
Feb 1991 A magazine dedicated to studies of the Hui nationality commenced publication on February 4. The "Studies of Hui Nationality" is sponsored and published by the NHAR Academy of Social Sciences. The first edition advanced the view that China's Hui nationality was formed by the long-term assimilation of Arabs, Persians and the Chinese Han nationality. China has over 8 million Hui people who live mainly in Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang, all in northwest China. Bai Shouyi, a well-known Chinese historian, is a major editor of the magazine.
Jul 1991 The Los Angeles Times (07/02/91) reports that restrictions on the training of future Imams (religious leaders) are still severe and the regional government of the NHAR restricts the construction of new mosques, because they are alleged to be "centers' of disturbance and secessionist movements.
Oct 1991 A 65-member special Muslim Committee has been set up to monitor the quality of factory-made Muslim food nationwide. The Committee will also take measures to initiate technical cooperation and expand the export of Chinese Muslim foods. Haji Hossin Hie Bo Li, former Chairman of NHAR, will lead the organization.
Nov 1991 The overseas edition of Renmin Ribao (11/28/91) carried a report of an interview with Shen Xiaxi and Ma Xian, the President and Vice President of the Islamic Association of China (IAC). The report noted that there are 17 million Muslims throughout China, 1.5% of the total population, but that 59 members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) are Muslims, 2.84% of the total. In the CPPCC Standing Committee, 13 are Muslims, 4.2% of the total.
Dec 1991 A Chinese Muslim Delegation led by Mohammad Hannafy Yaobin, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Religious Affairs under the State Council, left for Saudi Arabia on a friendly visit at the invitation of the Saudi government. This is the first visit of its kind to Saudi Arabia after the two countries established diplomatic relations in September.
Feb 1992 A delegation from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR) visited Singapore to promote bilateral cooperation. NHAR is a largely Muslim region with an area of 66,400 sq. km. and a population of 4.7 million. Bai Lichen, Chairman of the Region and head of the delegation, expressed hopes that the trip would promote understanding and friendship between Singapore and Ningxia, including between Singapore Malays and Hui Muslims. During their 7-day visit, the delegation also met with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Industry in Singapore.
Jul 1992 A 45-member Chinese cultural troupe composed of Muslims of different ethnicity visited Malaysia as part of cultural exchanges between Chinese and Malay Muslims.
Sep 1992 Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani met a group of Chinese Muslims in Tehran and expressed the hope that Muslims in China would have more contacts with Iran.
Mar 1993 Ma Changqing, a Chinese Muslim leader and Vice-Chairman of the Qinghai Province Islamic Association, put forward proposals to the on-going Eighth CPPCC for non-discrimination toward practicing Muslims (Japan Economic Newswire, 03/21/93). Ma is a member of the CPPCC. Although the Chinese Constitution defends peoples' right to religious belief, it does not protect religious activity; all such activities must accord with state laws.
Apr 1993 A ceremony marking the graduation of Muslim students from the School of Islamic Theories was held at the largest Chinese mosque in Xian. It was the first such ceremony in China since they were suspended over three decades ago by the Mao authorities. Such ceremonies date back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and were very popular throughout the country. A newly-published dictionary of Chinese Hui nationality puts forward a new theory on the origins of the Huis. It says that the Huis originated from dozens of ancient ethnic groups, not from the Arabs or Persians, as is commonly believed. The theory asserts that the Hui people arose from Central, South and Southeast Asia, as well as from Africa. Prof. Qiu Shusen, Editor-in-Chief of the dictionary, says that the multiple ancestries of the Hui people are unique in the world. The ancient marine and land silk roads facilitated the entrance of peoples from different parts of the world.
Jul 1993 A six-episode TV series titled "Chinese Muslims" in Gansu province was recently completed in Ianzhou, capital of the province. The TV program reflects changes in life, customs, folklore and businesses of Muslim peoples of the Hui, Dongxiang, Salar and Kazakh nationalities in Gansu.
Sep 1993 Muslims demonstrated through several cities in China protesting against a published cartoon that they say insults them. The Sichuan Art Publishing House copied the cartoon from a Taiwan comic book. The angry demonstrators also recalled several instances when the print media published offending items, including an essay "Wheat and Ningxia" by Chongqing Ribao (10/31/92) that stated: "The Hui Nationality worships the God of Pig." In response, the communist authorities dismissed the top publishers from their posts and ordered all copies of the book destroyed. The Taiwanese firm also apologized to China's Muslims and promised the book's withdrawal from the market.
Feb 1994 In a rare confirmation of unrest among China's Muslims, official sources said that 49 people were killed when paramilitary police units moved in to suppress fighting between rival religious groups outside a Ningxia province mosque last May. The New China News Agency says 22 people, including a prominent local politician, Ma Liesun, and two Muslim academics, were sentenced to long prison terms this month. They were convicted on charges that included murder and "unlawfully buying guns and ammunition" in connection with the incident. Liesun served on the national committee in Beijing representing China's minority populations. Southern Ningxia province, where the incident took place, has long been a stronghold of Sufism, the mystical school of Islam that has often played a role in revolts against authority in China. According to sources, the fighting in May was the result of a succession battle in the Sufi Zheherenye sect following the death of the sect's Imam, Ma Tenghai in June 1991. The sect is reported to have 100,000 followers in Ningxia. Police were called in when the contest to replace Ma Tenghai turned violent as rival factions were battling outside the Xiji mosque (The Dallas Morning News, 02/21/94).
Jul 1994 NHAR issued regulations forbidding religious bodies from interfering in administrative affairs, including education, marriage, and family planning. (U.S. Department of State Dispatch 3/96)
Aug 1994 A nationwide exhibition of calligraphic works and paintings of the Hui nationality will be held from September 23 to 28 in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Artistic works by over 400 Hui calligraphers and painters from some 30 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions as well as from Hong Kong and Taiwan will be on display.
Aug 15, 1994 A Hui Nationality Society has been set up in Xining, the capital of northwest China's Qinghai province. Over 600,000 Hui live in Qinghai. The Society will focus on training people to promote cultural and economic development in Hui populated areas (BBC, 05/15/94).
Feb 1995 China is in the midst of the "Great Age of Religious Revival", according to the President of Northwest Minorities University. Ma Qi Lin was the first Hui Muslim elected as president of the university. He states that China's open door policy and its decision to allow religious activities to be practiced openly have promoted solidarity among Chinese Islamic minority groups (New Straits Times, 02/06/95).
Mar 1995 China's government has publicly acknowledged that ethnic minorities in the country don't have enough to eat or wear and that the gap between the minorities and prosperous Chinese is widening. Fearful of unrest because of poverty, China is embarking on a program to ensure that by the year 2000, all ethnic peoples will be provided with enough food and clothes (UPI, 03/01/95). The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is expanding economic and trade cooperation with various Arab countries. Last year alone, the region exported $10 million (US) worth of goods to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Iran, Jordan, and Egypt (Xinhua News Agency, 03/29/95).
Jun 1995 The NHAR is conducting the largest population shift in its history and the second largest ever to occur in China. By the end of the century, almost 750,000 residents will be moved from arid mountainous areas in the south to newly-built irrigated zones along the Yellow River. The southern area of Ningxia is the poorest in the country due to droughts, overpopulation, and dwindling resources such as firewood. The move would involve 15% of the NHAR's population, half of which are expected to be Muslims. Since 1982, more than 250,000 inhabitants have chosen to move to the resettlement areas, where some 200 mosques have been built. Some government officials have expressed concerns that the new settlements might become hotbeds of Islamic fervor (BBC, 06/13/95; LA Times, 07/16/95).
Jun 16, 1995 Western experts indicate that the Hui have become deeply involved in the drug trade and criminal activity in Yunnan province and that this has deepened the gulf between the government and the Muslim minority. No further details were provided (Inter Press Service, 06/16/95).
Jan 1996 The government in Peking required all places of religious worship - including mosques - to register. (London Independent 4/14/96)
Feb 1996 Hui protestors demonstrated in several cities in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR) against the publication of a book on sexual practices, which the Muslims deemed offensive. The book was subsequently banned. (UPI 2/13/96)
Jul 1996 China's first-ever official magazine dealing exclusively with religion hit the newsstands. Religious Affairs Bureau director Zhang Shengzuo wrote in the first issue of "China Religion" that Beijing has no intention of easing restrictions imposed at the beginning of last year, prohibiting foreigners from setting up religious groups or offices in China or recruiting Chinese followers. These prohibitions also severely limited the hajj, or Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. (Agence France Presse 7/20/95)
Aug 1996 In Hotan, Xinjiang, 19 Muslims were convicted of possessing arms and belonging to a "counter-revolutionary" group, and sentenced to jail terms of up to 15 years. (London Independent 4/14/96)
Feb 1997 China set up its first non-governmental organization to help girls who have dropped out of school finish their schooling in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. A large portion of the region's residents are Hui. According to local authorities, they are sometimes too poor to send their children to school, in spite of the fact that the rate of enrollment in the region was 96% last year. More than 70% of China's school drop-outs are girls, government figures show. (Xinhua News Agency 2/19/97)
Dec 1997 China has executed 16 people in the restive northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang for crimes committed during a wave of anti- Chinese violence by separatists. The official said the 16 defendants were put to death Dec. 29 after a court in Urumqi convicted them of murder, robbery and drug peddling. Fewer than half of the defendants were Muslims from the Uighur and Hui ethnic minorities. (Washington Post 1/13/98)
Apr 1998 The director of Ningxia Academy of Social Sciences announced it would host an international symposium the history, culture, trade, religion, and education of the Hui. (Xinhua News Agence 4/1/98). Leading party and government officials of the NHAR met with 360 Muslim representatives of the Hui and Uygur ethnic groups to mark their traditional Corban festival. (Xinhua News Agency 4/7/98)
Dec 1998 On election day in Beijing, three of the four official candidates at the Niujie Mosque polling station in Beijing were Hui. The fourth is Han. Niujie had the largest concentration of Hui in Beijing. (China Daily 12/16/98)
Aug 1999 The World Bank publicly reconsidered its funding of a Chinese project after an American visiting the project area was seized by police and broke his back under mysterious circumstances while in custody. The project involved the resettlement of approximately 60,000 Hui peasants in Qinghai to Tibet. Critics said that the project violated World Bank rules about protecting the way of life of indigenous people, and that the money would probably finance some of the regionís many prisons or forced-labor camps. Previously, Harry Wu, a Chinese campaigner against labor camps, complained that World Bank loans were helping the Xinjiang Construction and Production Brigade, the "Bing Tuan", a paramilitary organization which operated prison farms and encouraged ethnic Han migration, including that of peasants displaced from the Three Gorges project. The World Bank decided Mr. Wu's criticisms could not be proved and has continued to lend money to the Bing Tuan. (South China Morning Post 8/29/99)
Oct 29 - Nov 1, 2004 Violence erupted between Hui and Han in Henan Province, after a Hui taxi driver struck and killed a Han child. The conflict lasted four days, involved about 5,000 individuals from several villages, and left 148 dead. It was quelled with the imposition of martial law. (BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 12/13/2004, "Paper reports on ethnic tension between China's Han majority, Hui Muslims")


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Information current as of July 16, 2010