Editor’s note: Is China becoming a giant of proportions that worry humanity? In a series of analyzes that will be read through Monday, China columnist and political science expert Loïc Tassé tries to answer that question.
China officially has 55 minorities. Among these minorities, there are 10 Muslims.
Muslims have been in China for a very long time. As early as the 7th century, Muslim merchants guaranteed much of the trade between China and Europe.
Today, most Chinese Muslims are Hui (10 million), Uyghurs (8 million), and Kazakhs (1.3 million). The majority of the Chinese people, 70%, are atheists.
Religious beliefs are generally seen as myths of another era and are discouraged. Therefore, a large part of the Muslim minorities became atheists.
In fact, the number one reason for the poor reception of religions in China is that the Chinese Communist Party considers them a competition for its power.
Originally from Ningxia, the Hui Muslims are scattered in many large cities.
They practice a very open Islam, without the hijab and often without food bans. Their ancestors’ language disappeared while they spoke Mandarin.
The Uyghurs are the second largest Islamic group in China. Originally from Xinjiang, they made up about 75% of that province’s population when the Communists seized power in China in 1949.
Since then, given the true tide of internal colonialism, they likely make up less than 30% of the province’s population.
Xinjiang is an important strategic region of China. Firstly for its gas and oil reserves, but also because it opens access to the heart of the Asian continent.
Uyghurs, unlike the vast majority of other Chinese, have Caucasian traits. They like to relate to their Turkish ancestry. Historically, they have always seen themselves on the fringes of Turkey rather than China.
Uyghurs also have independent tendencies. They tried twice, in 1933 and 1944, to become an independent state. It must be said that Xinjiang (literally “New Frontier” in Chinese) was incorporated into the Chinese Empire only late, in 1884.
Therefore, Xinjiang’s minorities, such as the Uyghurs like the Kazakhs or the Kyrgyz, have mixed feelings to say the least about the Han Chinese.
Uyghur Islam has become more fundamentalist over the years. Uyghur separatist Islamist groups are also responsible for various terrorist attacks across China.
Finally, the Uyghurs are major players in drug trafficking in China.
Little chance of survival
A minority in their lands, subject to decades of assimilation policies, now decimated by Xi Jinping’s genocidal policies, Uyghurs are unlikely to survive into the 21st century.
More importantly, the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rather than supporting the Uyghurs, prefers to reconcile with China.
Those who have taken refuge in Turkey will start handing them over to China.