Restive Muslim populations at China’s borders provoke concern among authorities that separatist factions may agitate for independence, at the same time that China’s Muslims have gone online to craft new identities. To what extent does Chinese Muslims’ cyber-presence indicate growing assertiveness or integration with the Chinese Communist Party’s “harmonious society” agenda? Based on interviews in Beijing and the online observations of the reported activities and growth of China Muslim Youth Club, this paper argues that young Muslim leaders are forging a China Muslim network to mobilize youths and reshape the cultural image of Islam in China. It shows the ways in which Muslim youths develop a religious vision at the national and international level. Domestically, Chinese Muslim leaders aim to construct new understandings of Islam in China as they handle issues facing Muslim youths at the societal level while at the international level they align with the global Muslim brotherhood (Ummah). Young Chinese Muslims are fashioning innovative strategies that endorse the political program of ‘harmonious society’ advocated by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) but also respect traditional Islamic authorities in the existing religious structures, all to advance new and reforming voices in Chinese cyber-Islamic environments. These innovative strategies are illustrated by the emphasis on charity work for the public good while fostering Muslim entrepreneurialism, promotion of solidarity among Muslim groups by de-emphasizing the sectarian differences, as well as encouraging of inter-religious understanding along the work of Islamic preaching.
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2014|