The Chinese Communist Party has warned its Muslim citizens to reject Islamic teachings and to adhere to “Marxist atheism.”
General Secretary and President Xi Jinping’s remarks were made at the recent Second National Work Conference on Religion in China, and were directed particularly toward the population of Xinjiang province, where a large percentage of the residents are orthodox Muslims.
The province borders Pakistan, where Chinese authorities believe the Islamic tendencies flow from. The president’s speech at the conference was also a veiled message to Pakistan to stop the flow of Islamic teachings to China.
“Any comment that hurts our religion, Islam, is not acceptable and we urge the Chinese leadership to take it back,” the leader of Pakistan’s hard-line organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, said in response to the statement. “By uttering such statements, China is hurting its time-tested relations with the people of Pakistan.”
Although China has actively pursued trade relations with Muslim countries, at the same time, it seeks to limit the influence of Islam in its own country — resulting in a mixed impact on the country’s 23 million Muslims.
China has recently unveiled its plan to create a sanctioned Muslim theme park inspired by the Arabian Nights in its tourist destination, Yinchuan.
The World Muslim City cost $3.7 billion to make and reportedly is aimed at improving relations with Muslims. Yet some believe it is also an attempt to shift attention away from China’s human rights abuse against its Uighur Muslim minority.
Although Hui Muslims manage the park, the Uighur Muslims are the ones who attract negative attention for the Communist state.
The Chinese government also has a long-running feud with Buddhists. In order to curb Buddhism form Tibet, the Chinese government has set up an official record of “living buddhas” that is run by the Communist Party.