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HomeWorld'Sinicisation' of Islam 'inevitable', says top Chinese official in Xinjiang

‘Sinicisation’ of Islam ‘inevitable’, says top Chinese official in Xinjiang

A senior Communist Party official of China’s Xinjiang province on Thursday said that “Sinicisation of Islam in the Muslim-dominated province was “inevitable”. China has faced massive international criticism over the persecution Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The remarks of Ma Xingrui came six months after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Xinjiang and asked officials to “promote the Sinicization of Islam”.

“Everyone knows that Islam in Xinjiang needs to be Sinicised, this is an inevitable trend,” regional party chief Ma Xingrui told reporters, according to news agency Reuters.

Ma was reading out from a largely scripted briefing on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary sessions in Beijing, the report said.

Ma Xingrui, who was previously the governor of Guangdong province, was sent to head the administration in Xinjiang in 2021.

In recent years, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for the ‘Sinicisation’ of various religions, including Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity, urging followers to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party.

The Chinese government has been blamed for pursuing a years-long campaign against what it describes as terrorism and Islamic extremism in the northwestern region.

A UN agency in a 2022 report spoke of “serious human rights violations have been committed” in Xinjiang “in the context of the Government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies.”

Ma’s conference also focused on Xinjiang’s economic development, tourism potential, and cultural preservation. Despite international criticism and allegations of human rights abuses, regional officials refuted allegations of forced labour and cultural genocide, and portrayed the region as being open to foreign tourism and investment.

It also highlighted that Xinjiang received 565.7 billion yuan ($78.5 billion) in central government transfers and over 19 billion yuan ($2.6 billion) in fiscal aid from other provinces. According to regional officials, more than 4,390 foreigners visited Xinjiang in 2023, and the region has seen a significant increase in renewable energy capacity, which now stands at 64.4 million kilowatts.

However, Xinjiang’s role as a major base for solar cell production has been marred by allegations of forced labour.

A November 2023 report of the Human Rights Watch said that the Chinese government’s campaign of mosque closures, previously reported in Xinjiang spread to the Ningxia autonomous region and Gansu province, the home of the Hui Muslims.

The report was based on public documents, satellite imagery, and witness testimonies.

Published On:

Mar 7, 2024

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