In forging the growing trade ties between the Arab world and China, this paper observes that the Hui Muslim minority underwent an ethnic turn in the revival of the Silk Road connections, which shifted from being the Han man's burden to a potential asset of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Firstly, this paper introduces how cultural perceptions shape the treatment of ethnic minorities in China by reviewing the historical background of the national policy on ethnic minorities. Secondly, it discusses why the Hui Muslims in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the largest Hui Muslim settled area, were mobilized to foster Sino-Arab trade rather than the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. An example is the transformation of the Qingzhen food industry of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region into a hub of China's Islamic food (Halal) production. This paper argues that the management of food safety among Muslim minorities is not only significant to the local public health and inter-ethnic harmony, but also a key foreign strategy in improving China's global image, especially in building strategic foreign relations with the Muslim world. Given the ethnic unrest in domestic politics and the trend of the state's initiative in strengthening foreign relations with the Arab world, this paper concludes that Hui Muslims today have been, on one hand, demonstrating the model of a “good citizen” and, on the other, playing a “cultural ambassador”, mediating between the post-socialist China and the Muslim world along the new Silk Road. © 2013 Copyright City University of Hong Kong.
CitationHo, W. Y. (2012). Mobilizing the Muslim minority for China's development: Hui Muslims, ethnic relations and Sino-Arab connections. Journal of Comparative Asian Development, 12(1), 84-112.
- Hui Muslims
- Halal food
- Sino-Arab relations