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Global Times US Edition - - INDE -

Ob­servers out­side the Ningxia Hui Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion show con­cern about the pan-ha­lal ten­dency while lo­cal res­i­dents are less wor­ried about the role Is­lam is play­ing in pub­lic life.

The Ningxia gov­ern­ment has taken mea­sures in re­sponse to heated dis­cus­sions on the pan-ha­lal ten­dency, in­clud­ing re­mov­ing guide­boards that used to have China and Ara­bic script and plac­ing clear lim­its on ha­lal food.

As a res­i­dent of Yinchuan, North­west China’s Ningxia Hui Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, Xia Yi (pseu­do­nym), 29, has no­ticed some changes to his city – guide­boards that used to have Chi­nese and Ara­bic script are now Chi­nese-only and Is­lamic-style ar­chi­tec­ture is now rarely shown on lo­cal TV.

“I no­ticed that dur­ing the re­cent dis­cus­sion on­line about the pan-ha­lal ten­dency in Ningxia some ne­ti­zens even re­ferred to the re­gion as ‘Ningx­i­as­tan,’ es­pe­cially af­ter the con­tro­versy over the Ningxia Univer­sity ha­lal can­teens,” Xia said.

A few on­line posts com­plain­ing that Ningxia Univer­sity does not of­fer enough non-ha­lal din­ing halls snow­balled into a na­tional con­tro­versy in the mid­dle of Au­gust, with many non-Mus­lim Chi­nese claim­ing that Mus­lims are given fa­vor­able treat­ment to an un­fair de­gree.

Xia, who grad­u­ated from Ningxia Univer­sity in 2011, ex­plained that “most of the time we had din­ner with class­mates of the Hui eth­nic­ity, so we usu­ally went to the ha­lal can­teens for cour­tesy’s sake, which be­came our habit. This may be the rea­son for there be­ing fewer non-ha­lal din­ing halls in the cam­pus than the ha­lal ones,” Xia said. The Hui eth­nic group is pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim.

“But the dis­cus­sion on the pan-ha­lal ten­dency is quite nec­es­sary as more and more things re­lated to Is­lam could be seen in Ningxia in re­cent years. This may be one rea­son that some peo­ple worry that the pan-ha­lal ten­dency will ex­tend to ev­ery­thing in our daily lives,” Xia said.

Har­mony at home

Liu Ta (pseu­do­nym) from Wuzhong, a city where more than half of the pop­u­la­tion are Hui, told the Global Times that it is nor­mal for cities in Ningxia to be in­flu­enced by Is­lam as so many peo­ple liv­ing there are Hui, but a good bal­ance should be main­tained.

Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal gov­ern­ment data, Ningxia has more than 2.4 mil­lion Hui, ac­count­ing for 36 per­cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion.

Vis­i­tors who come to Ningxia can­not miss the in­flu­ence of Hui cul­ture – women wear­ing head­scarves, many snack stands and restau­rants iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves as ha­lal, a build­ing that looks like the white cap worn by many Hui men.

“Many of the Han peo­ple in Ningxia are used to ha­lal food. Not eat­ing pork is a small sac­ri­fice we have made to keep eth­nic unity,” Liu joked.

How­ever, the Ningxia gov­ern­ment has taken mea­sures against the pan-ha­lal ten­dency and Is­lamic thought in­flu­enced by the­olo­gies com­mon in Arab na­tions, which is re­ferred to as Ara­biza­tion.

La­bels des­ig­nat­ing prod­ucts as ha­lal are needed for some food prod­ucts, but some firms have la­beled wa­ter, rice and other daily ne­ces­si­ties as ha­lal, which has caused con­fu­sion in so­ci­ety, Li Jian­hua, sec­re­tary of the Ningxia Hui Au­ton­o­mous Re­gional Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, told the media dur­ing the an­nual two na­tional leg­isla­tive ses­sions in Bei­jing in March.

Li ad­mit­ted that there are signs of the pan-ha­lal ten­dency in Ningxia, but it is not un­stop­pable. “We should place clear lim­its on ha­lal food to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings be­tween dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties,” Li said.

The Ningxia Eth­nic Af­fairs Com­mis­sion vowed in May to do well in on ide­o­log­i­cal work re­lated to eth­nic­ity and re­li­gion, and pay at­ten­tion to re­lated on­line dis­cus­sions, read a press re­lease on the web­site of the Ningxia gov­ern­ment.

The com­mis­sion will prop­erly han­dle the pan-ha­lal and Ara­biza­tion ten­den­cies, pro­mot­ing so­cial­ist core val­ues and plac­ing na­tional flags in re­li­gious sites.

The lo­cal gov­ern­ment has also made ef­forts to man­age pub­lic opinion on so­cial media in an ef­fort to elim­i­nate neg­a­tive in­flu­ences.

Com­pared with the pre­vi­ous Chi­naArab States Ex­pos held in Yinchuan, fewer guests wear­ing Is­lamic cloth­ing were spot­ted dur­ing the 2017 expo from Septem­ber 6 to 9.

An in­tern work­ing at a lo­cal media out­let told the Global Times that the lo­cal gov­ern­ment pub­lic­ity depart­ment asked the media not to fo­cus on Is­lamic fac­tors,

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