President Xi Jinping has stated that Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation, emphasising that faiths in the nation must conform to the socialist society espoused by the ruling Communist Party of China. Jinping’s remarks follow his first visit to the contentious province of Xinjiang since 2014, where a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are said to be incarcerated in camps.
Xi emphasised the need of developing a strong feeling of community for the Chinese people, emphasising the need to increase religious governance ability and achieve the healthy growth of faiths. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, he said that increased efforts should be made to guarantee that believers’ regular religious requirements are closely aligned with the party and the government.
He stressed the importance of cultural identity, calling for education and guidance for people of all ethnic groups to enhance their affiliation with the country. China has accused the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which operates in the region, of carrying out several terrorist assaults. China has dismissed Western accusations that its actions in Xinjiang amounted to ‘genocide’, insisting that its measures had helped address the danger of Islamic extremism.
Following a lengthy negotiating process with Beijing, UN Human Rights Council chair Michelle Bachelet recently visited Xinjiang and expressed worry over China’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization tactics. Jinping, who is certain to win a third term as president of the world’s second-largest economy, is largely expected to defy decades of Communist Party tradition.