Unfettered hate speech fuels Chinese fear of Islam | The Japan Times

Of interest:

A flood of angry anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media was the first sign of how fiercely suburban middle-class homeowners in the central Chinese city of Hefei opposed a planned mosque in their neighborhood. It quickly escalated into something more sinister.

Soon a pig’s head was buried in the ground at the future Nangang mosque, the culmination of a rally in which dozens of residents hoisted banners and circled the planned building site.

Then the mosque’s imam received a text message carrying a death threat: “In case someone in your family dies, I have a coffin for you — and more than one, if necessary.”

“How did things get stirred up to this point?” the imam, Tao Yingsheng, said in a recent interview. “Who had even heard of the Nangang mosque before?”

On the dusty plains of the Chinese heartland, the bitter fight over the mosque exemplifies how a surge in anti-Muslim sentiment online is spreading into communities across China, exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions that have in the past erupted in bloodshed. It is also posing a dilemma for the ruling Communist Party, which has allowed Islamophobia to fester online for years as part of its campaign to justify security crackdowns in the restive region of Xinjiang.

“It has let the genie out of the bottle,” said James Leibold, a professor at La Trobe University in Australia who has tracked the growth of anti-Muslim hate speech on China’s internet.

Interviews with residents and an examination of social media show how a few disparate online complaints by local homeowners evolved into a concerted campaign to spread hate.

Key to it was an unexpected yet influential backer: a Chinese propaganda official, 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) away in Xinjiang, whose inflammatory social media posts helped draw people into the streets on New Year’s Day, resulting in a police crackdown.

First mosque in 1780s

A stone inscription outside its gate shows the original Nangang mosque was established in the 1780s by members of the Hui minority, the descendants of Silk Road traders who settled across China centuries ago. In its present form, the mosque has served the area’s 4,500 Hui for decades, its domed silhouette partially hidden by overgrown shrubs in the countryside beyond Hefei’s last paved boulevards.

Over the past 10 years urbanization has come to Hefei, with sprawling development reconfiguring the landscape and its demographic flavor, and Hui leaders had been pushing for years to relocate their mosque to a more convenient urban location.

City planners in November finally selected a site adjacent to the newly built Hangkong New City condominiums, with its $200,000 two-bedroom units, faux-Mediterranean styling and a Volvo dealership across the street.

The project’s homeowners — overwhelmingly members of China’s ethnic Han majority — began complaining on China’s popular microblog Weibo. Some complained the mosque would occupy space promised for a park. Others warned that safety in the area would be compromised.

Others were more blunt: Han residents were uncomfortable that a center for Hui community life would be less than 100 meters from their building, a homeowner who later identified himself in messages to the AP by his surname, Cheng, wrote in a petition posted in December. “And the less said about what happens on Eid al-Adha, the better,” Cheng wrote, referring to the Islamic holiday in which animals are slaughtered for a sacrificial feast. “It’s absolutely shocking.”

Source: Unfettered hate speech fuels Chinese fear of Islam | The Japan Times

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Canada deports hundreds to China each year with no treatment guarantee

The large number of deportations to China reflects in part the large number of immigrants from China: 1,386 deportations compared to over 78,000 immigrants, or 1.8 percent (2013-15).

However, this is more than other large source countries like the Philippines and India. Given lack of due process in Chinese courts, this concern is not misplaced with respect to corruption cases:

The Canadian government is deporting hundreds of people to China each year without receiving any assurances that they will not be tortured or otherwise mistreated, statistics provided to The Globe and Mail reveal.

Canada and China do not have a formal extradition treaty, and the Trudeau government has signalled that it may not complete such a deal out of concern about abuses in the Chinese justice system.

The lack of such a deal has not, however, stopped Canada from sending people back to China. The Canada Border Services Agency has used deportation, expelling 1,386 people to China over the past three years, according to agency statistics.

It’s a process that lawyers, academics and former diplomats say offers too few protections against the mistreatment deportees might endure.

It also places Canada at risk of using evidence rooted in coerced confessions as Canadian authorities make decisions on ejecting people, particularly those sought by Beijing as part of its sweeping global Skynet operation to chase people it calls corrupt fugitives.

When people are returned to a country such as China, “there’s a need for very significant and enforceable assurances about the treatment they will receive and monitoring on the part of Canada – which Canada has not done,” said Sharryn Aiken, an expert on immigration and refugee law at Queen’s University.

“And in the absence of monitoring, people die in jail.”

The United Nations Committee against Torture has said that in China “the practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal-justice system.”

Canada’s own foreign service recently signed its name to a letter saying there are “credible claims of torture” against people under interrogation in China.

Before deporting someone, Canadian immigration officials can conduct what is called a “preremoval risk assessment,” designed to evaluate whether a person is in danger of mistreatment upon return. “Due diligence is important before undertaking any removal measures,” said Nicholas Dorion, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency. That assessment is “in place to ensure that a person will not be removed to a country where they could face death or torture.”

But risk assessments are done entirely in Canada and do not include demands that China guarantee it will abide by certain standards of conduct, or allow Canada to monitor deportees.

“Many of us don’t feel it’s really an effective safeguard,” said Vancouver immigration lawyer Douglas Cannon. “Especially in the case of people who are being sent back to face prosecution in China.”

The potential for problems is serious enough that David Mulroney, the former Canadian ambassador to China, says Ottawa should refuse to co-operate with Beijing on most corruption cases, limiting joint law-enforcement work to public-safety cases involving people accused of murder or drug offences.

When China demands the return of people it calls corrupt, it is asking Canada “to send people back into a very murky and worrisome Chinese system,” he said. “You have to be very sure that you are not on the Canadian side enabling the Chinese to unfairly prosecute someone.”

Using Interpol

Ottawa does have the ability to demand assurances from countries such as China, as it did in the high-profile deportation of notorious smuggler Lai Changxing in 2011. Beijing pledged not to torture or execute the man it then considered its number one most-wanted. China also promised Canada extraordinary rights to monitor his treatment. Mr. Lai’s case, however, was a notable exception.

Canada maintains lists of countries to which deportations are either permanently or temporarily blocked, although it has exceptions for criminals and people deemed to be a security risk. Canada deported 6,964 people in 2016. Of those, 382 were sent to China, just more than 5 per cent of the total, CBSA statistics show. In recent years, Chinese citizens have been the fourth-most regularly deported from Canada, behind citizens of Hungary, the United States and Mexico.

Source: Canada deports hundreds to China each year with no treatment guarantee – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: China trip may help Trudeau win Chinese-Canadian votes

Good and interesting analysis regarding the differences among Chinese Canadians voting patterns and the efforts by the Liberals and Conservatives to attract their votes. For the breakdown of major voting groups in the 33 ridings where visible minorities are in the majority, see 2015 Election Top 33 ridings more than 50 % visible minorities):

As Justin Trudeau tries to build economic ties during his first state visit to China, he may also be helping himself a little with a political goal back home: breaking through with the country’s largest immigrant group.

Among the very few disappointments for Mr. Trudeau’s campaign team, in last year’s election, was how their party fared with Chinese-Canadians. Liberal candidates did as well or better with just about every other demographic as they could reasonably hope; this was one with which they struggled, and the Conservatives retained strength, more than they anticipated.

Markham-Unionville, with the highest concentration of Chinese-Canadian voters of any riding nationally, was one of the very few Greater Toronto Area seats where the Liberals failed to top the Tories – and, according to members of Mr. Trudeau’s inner circle, the only seat in the country they wrongly expected to win.

 The one other riding where more than half of eligible voters are of Chinese descent, the Vancouver-area Richmond Centre, also proved beyond their grasp; narrower-than-expected margins in a few ridings they did win, notably in Toronto’s inner-suburb of Scarborough, suggested a pattern.

It’s one the Liberals need to break, as the country’s largest immigrant population – 1.5 million and growing – could yet be the difference in a close election.

But there are no shortcuts, in the form of goodwill from foreign trips or anything else, to breaking through. Based on conversations with party organizers who have worked on the ground in Chinese communities, the reality is more an array of complex factors that the Liberals will have to work hard to change.

Underscoring the nuance is a key distinction between families who came from Hong Kong, mostly through to the 1980s, and those who have come from mainland China in the past couple of decades. The general consensus is that the Liberals tended to do better with the former and the Conservatives with the latter in last year’s vote.

While that may have helped the Liberals at least significantly narrow the gap from 2011 in a riding like Richmond Centre, where many of the Chinese-Canadian voters have Hong Kong roots, it’s of little consolation since even there those voters are increasingly being overwhelmed by waves of mainland emigrants.

The Liberals’ election postmortems seemed to leave them with all sorts of explanations for why they’ve struggled with the newer arrivals.

The most popular of those explanations, among Mr. Trudeau’s top officials, is social conservatism. The Conservatives made a concerted effort to convince immigrant voters (not just Chinese-Canadians) that the Liberals would allow the sale of marijuana to children; in Ontario, the Liberals also had to contend with controversy around their provincial cousins’ sex-education changes.

While such concerns may have gotten traction among evangelicals with Hong Kong roots, Liberals say they especially heard about them from mainlanders new enough to Canada to be worried about the radicalism of a party they had not seen much (if at all) in power.

Those issues may have penetrated partly because the Tories out-advertised the Liberals in Chinese-Canadian media. And Conservative-friendly ownership of leading outlets such as Fairchild TV and the Sing Tao Daily newspaper helped the Tories get more positive earned media than the Liberals in primary news sources for many relative newcomers – if not as it related to hot-button social issues, then in how the leaders and their agendas were generally presented.

That ties into a whole bunch of other explanations floating around. The Liberals’ polling, according to a source familiar with it, suggested former mainlanders were receptive to what some other Canadians saw as Stephen Harper’s authoritarian streak, considering him a much stronger leader than Mr. Trudeau.

A veteran organizer in the Chinese community suggested economic conservatism was borne of relatively affluent recent arrivals being concerned about their assets’ safety from government intrusion. Just as earlier waves of immigrants had a positive association with the Liberals because that party was in power when they got here, more recent ones might have felt that way about the Tories.

Merely having won government may help the Liberals with that last factor, and some of the others besides. They can set to rest some of the more extravagant fears about their social liberalism by not legislating like radicals. Mr. Trudeau will seem stronger just by virtue of his office.

A trip like this week’s is a prime opportunity to forge better relations with Mandarin media outlets, while also getting copious coverage in them. (Although it also runs the risk of alienating some of their supporters who came here from Hong Kong, and are wary of Canada’s government cozying up to the Middle Kingdom.)

But there is also an underlying reality that belies quick fixes, and will test the Liberals’ commitment to their “hope and hard work” mantra to winning over voters.

Source: China trip may help Trudeau win Chinese-Canadian votes – The Globe and Mail

Canadian woman’s case galvanizes Chinese moms in custody battles – The Globe and Mail

Another reminder of some of the risks related to international custody battles. Global Affairs Canada is working on over 300 known cases worldwide (the actual number is likely higher):

Ms. Dai is now midway through an appeal, her final avenue for securing access to her son.

She has borne the costs alone. Like Alison Azer, the Courtenay, B.C. woman whose children were allegedly abducted to Iran, Ms. Dai has struggled to get help from home. She has written Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and multiple people at the Canadian embassy in Beijing. One told her to call local police if her child was in danger and declined her request for a letter of support she could use in court: “this would involve the Government of Canada in a private legal matter, which is not part of our mandate as consular officials.”

Ms. Dai said she sees that as “a message to other Canadian mothers” in China that “if they get in any sort of trouble, be aware that no one can help.”

In an e-mail, Foreign Affairs spokesman François Lasalle said officials are providing Ms. Dai “consular assistance,” and “work hard” to support more than 300 Canadian families worldwide in similar circumstances. A new Chinese domestic violence law, enacted this year, “is a significant improvement” but “still has important shortcomings,” he said.

“We are committed to ensuring the promotion and protection of women’s and girls’ human rights,” he said.

Ms. Dai, however, has found greater support from others in China after she took her fight public, galvanizing other mothers to confront weaknesses in their legal system and advocate for change in a country where fast-rising divorce rates are approaching U.S. levels. Ms. Dai has made advocacy a full-time job, securing a small office in Beijing and hiring three assistants.

Her story has been published by more than 200 media outlets and she has been interviewed on national television shows. She has hired the lawyer who represented Kim Lee, an American woman beaten by her famous Chinese husband, a hotly discussed case that drew national attention to domestic abuse problems in China.

The pain Ms. Dai suffered “is more severe” than what Ms. Lee endured, her lawyer, Qi Lianfeng, said in an interview.

Ms. Dai says her former husband, movie stuntman Liu Jie, slapped her, pushed her to the ground, stomped on her face and once wrenched her leg so badly she had trouble walking.

In a trial last year, however, Mr. Liu argued that Tristan should stay with him because Ms. Dai “is irresponsible, doesn’t care about the son or want to raise him” and was too busy working, according to a summary contained in the verdict released this spring. The judge found that Mr. Liu had hit Ms. Dai, but gave him custody nonetheless, citing “the principle of benefiting his healthy physical and mental growth.”

Reached for comment, Mr. Liu said “it’s a family matter,” and asked for privacy.

The stakes in China are high for fathers and their families. The long-standing one-child policy means a child, especially a son, is expected to “carry on the family blood,” said Li Ying, a lawyer and director of a Beijing legal assistance agency.

When those families seize their children, they also gain an advantage in court, where judges tend to view leaving the child in place as less disruptive, heavily emphasizing possession.

Courts also have little power to enforce custody rulings. And authorities try to keep problems quiet. Ms. Dai was visited by police before holding a recent conference on custody issues, and subsequently asked a Globe and Mail reporter not to attend to avoid further problems.

Still, custody problems are not unique to China, which is moving to ensure a new domestic violence law, enacted this year, creates real change. Officials are currently drafting detailed guidelines for its enforcement.

“In the future, things will be better, particularly in custody matters,” said Yang Xiaolin, a lawyer who was part of a special team at Nanjing Normal University examining problems with child custody.

But, he said, attitudes must first change.

“The Chinese legal system has yet to treat juveniles seriously,” he said. To decide custody, “a child’s needs must be taken into account. Not only their material needs, but also emotional ones.”

Source: Canadian woman’s case galvanizes Chinese moms in custody battles – The Globe and Mail

Terry Glavin: Canada’s servile relationship with China | National Post

In Glavin’s diatribe against previous and current governments efforts to strengthen ties with China, some valid observations and concerns with respect to immigration policies and programs:

….Canadians were similarly hoodwinked by the Immigrant Investor Program (IIP). Begun by Conservative free trader Brian Mulroney and conceived mainly as a way to lure thousands of jittery cash-rich Hong Kong entrepreneurs to Canada, the IIP ended up as the primary means by which Canadian real estate became a favoured bolthole for all the money being spirited out of the People’s Republic. As the country descends deeper into the abyss, Chinese banks were drained of nearly a trillion dollars in illegal money transfers last year alone.

The IIP had to be folded up by the Harper Conservatives after it became clear — and as it took the South China Morning Post’s Ian Young to reveal — that Canada’s ragged refugee-class immigrants had contributed more to Revenue Canada than the IIP’s big-spender immigrant investors did over the life of the program. Now, in an inter-provincial ripoff far more outrageous than any of those “equalization payment” uproars between “have” and “have-not” provinces that have erupted from time to time, the Quebec government has taken over the immigrant-investor racket. Quebec scoops up an $800,000 loan from every IIP arrival – roughly 2,000 “investors” annually — nine out of 10 of whom then immediately get back on a plane and fly elsewhere, mainly Vancouver.

The B.C. treasury gets nothing out of this — and the B.C. government’s recent 15-per-cent sales tax imposition on properties bought by foreign nationals isn’t expected to change a thing. What Vancouverites have gotten out of this is one of the world’s least affordable cities, bitterly divided against itself. Average house prices in Metro Vancouver have nearly tripled over the past 15 years. Home ownership for working families is a thing of the past.

Now we’re being sold on a Chinese version of the temporary foreign worker program. Conceived as a short-term remedy to the occasional ailment of acute labour shortages in key industries, the indentured-labour service had to be dismantled by the Conservatives owing to its inevitably scandalous abuse by disreputable employers. By 2012, there were 338,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada. Last year the number was down to about 90,000. Now, McCallum is championing a ramped up, Beijing-vetted version. You would not be unwise to wager that this will not end well.

Source: Terry Glavin: Canada’s servile relationship with China | National Post

Canada wants more Chinese workers, students and tourists, says immigration minister: Encouraging settlement outside of Vancouver, Toronto 

While there has been some increased immigration to smaller centres recently, the vast majority still go to major urban centres given that is where the jobs and support networks are.

And, given the mobility rights of the Charter, those that settle in smaller centres or regions are free to resettle elsewhere if circumstances or opportunities dictate:

In today’s scrum, reporters asked what the Liberal government would do to make sure its immigration push didn’t put more pressure on hot housing markets.

McCallum said the government’s intention is to encourage immigrants to settle outside of Vancouver and Toronto.

“We would like to spread the immigrants across the country relatively evenly,” said McCallum.

“The last thing we want is every immigrant goes to either Toronto or Vancouver.”

McCallum said he’s hearing appetite for more immigration at his consultation sessions across Canada, especially in the Maritimes with an aging population.

“There’s a significant feeling that Canada does need more immigrants, partly because we have an aging population, and so we need more young blood to keep our economies going.”

But McCallum admitted the government can’t require immigrants to live in certain places, as Quebec’s immigrant investor program has shown.

“That is against the Constitution of Canada. If they are permanent residents, we cannot require them to stay anywhere. They have the right to live anywhere in Canada they wish to live.”

Source: Canada wants more Chinese workers, students and tourists, says immigration minister – British Columbia – CBC News

Canadian or Chinese? Foreign Citizenship Brought Into Question | The Diplomat

Dual nationals, when in the country of their other nationality, are generally not deemed to be Canadian by that country (see Travelling as a dual citizen).

So “while a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” applies within Canada, it is not necessarily recognized by foreign governments. And while consular officials can and do make representation in such cases, their effectiveness can be limited given this reality.

But requiring Canadian-born citizens of Chinese descent to become Chinese citizens in a country which does not recognize dual citizenship and where normal legal protections and due process does not apply takes this to a new level:

Canadians of Hong Kong descent now have another consideration when traveling to China. Late last month two teenagers born and raised in Canada were denied 10-year visas to China based on the fact that their parents were born in Hong Kong. Perhaps more alarmingly for the hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers who have fled to the safe harbor of Canada, and other democracy-friendly nations, the teens were told that they must travel to China as Chinese nationals.

These are not standalone cases either. Hong Kong Chinese language media have reported that a number of first generation Canadians, who were born in Hong Kong, are being forced into the same situation; and the Hong Kong-born, Australian author of this article has also experienced the same treatment by Chinese visa authorities.

Ottawa is now querying Beijing over these recent cases, and have asked China to clarify any changes they have made to visa requirements and migration laws. Canadian Member of Parliament Jenny Kwan, who was born in Hong Kong, said she pressed Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, urging him to look into the visa situation.

“The change in practice should be of grave concern to Canadians; after all, a Canadian is a Canadian. As such, should all Canadians not be treated the same?” Kwan said.

The change would effectively mean that Canadian citizens traveling to China will no longer have the privilege of protection from the Canadian embassy.

As stipulated in Article 3 of China’s nationality law, China does not recognize dual nationality. This law naturally extended to Hong Kong citizens as per the 1996 pre-handover “Explanations” issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. By extension, Article 5 of the nationality laws states that children of Chinese who have settled abroad “shall not have Chinese nationality.”

However, the reverse is also true under Article 8, which states any person who applies for naturalization as a Chinese national shall acquire Chinese nationality upon approval of their application — and shall not retain foreign nationality. That means that if these Canadians do indeed apply for Chinese citizenship to travel to Mainland China, then it could be argued that they are renouncing their Canadian nationality.

At a regular press conference in late June, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei responded to questions about the situation, stating that the visa reciprocity arrangement reached by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Canadian Embassy in China on February 28, 2015, would be strictly adhered to, and that both countries would issue multi-entry visas, valid for up to 10 years, to each other’s citizens for the purposes of business, tourism, and family visits.

Hong stressed that China has been acting in strict accordance with the reciprocity arrangement and that reports about China making adjustments to or tightening its policy were not true:

“We handle visas, travel documents, and passports applications by Chinese citizens from Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Nationality Law of the PRC and the Interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Some Questions Concerning Implementation of the Nationality Law of the PRC in the Hong Kong … As for what will be granted in the end, it is based on the personal information about the applicant and related documents. Since the Chinese government resumed its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has been asking its overseas diplomatic missions to offer all-out services and assistance to Chinese citizens from Hong Kong living in foreign countries in accordance with the law, facilitating their travel, work and stay in all parts of the world.”

This statement raises a few concerns of its own. The stress on “Chinese citizens from Hong Kong living in foreign countries” seems to dance around the question of the nationality of ethnic Chinese Canadians, or ethnic Chinese from any other nation for that matter. It can also easily be misconstrued, misinterpreted, or reinterpreted to any other number of meanings.

Source: Canadian or Chinese? Foreign Citizenship Brought Into Question | The Diplomat

ICYMI: Anxiety in Vancouver over Hong Kong’s future

A different angle on diaspora politics:

Vancouver has long been intimately tied to this kind of soul-searching about the future of Hong Kong.

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong Chinese became Canadian citizens in the late 1980s and 1990s after the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989 and in the years leading up to 1997. But many later returned to work and live in Hong Kong as mainland China prospered economically.

At the same time, a generation of Chinese and non-Chinese Canadians from Vancouver also packed their bags and headed to Hong Kong seeking adventure, work and ties to their heritage as political fears gave way to the lure of interesting opportunities — often, again, tied to the rise of mainland China.

As such, both groups, especially those with more established business interests, are generally more constrained to speak up publicly for Hong Kong’s interests, though many will privately sigh.

“Concerns for Hong Kong go hand-in-hand with needing to also consider their beneficial relationship with China,” observes Helen Hok-Sze Leung, associate professor at Simon Fraser University, who grew up in Hong Kong.

Lam and others, however, are part of a younger generation in Vancouver who relate with peers in Hong Kong who have become more strident in identifying themselves as being part of a Hong Kong that is culturally separate from mainland China.

“It’s the city where I grew up so I have stronger ties and I naturally feel bad” about what is happening, says Lam.

“I go onto Twitter and Weibo and see Hong Kong young people writing (in the local dialect) of Cantonese and declaring themselves as Hong Kongers first,” says Leung. “This is a generation that was born under (mainland) Chinese rule and yet their sense of local (Hong Kong) identity and asserting that culture seems stronger than in my generation, and this percolates to migrants (who move to Vancouver).”

Lee, the lecturer, recently spoke about independent film Ten Years, which became an unexpected hit in Hong Kong when it was released in mid-December. The film consists of five ominous short stories hypothesizing what Hong Kong will be like 10 years from now. In one, cab drivers who speak Cantonese instead of Mandarin have their livelihoods clipped when they are prohibited from picking up certain passengers. In another, books are censored and banned ones are pulled off shelves.

According to Reuters, the film broke box office records in Hong Kong for attendance, but around a month later, after mainland Chinese state-controlled publication “denounced Ten Years in a January editorial,” the filmmakers were told by cinemas in Hong Kong they couldn’t continue showing it because of scheduling issues.

Source: Anxiety in Vancouver over Hong Kong’s future

Light Government Touch Lets China’s Hui Practice Islam in the Open – The New York Times

Interesting contrast to the repression of the Uighurs:

As the call to prayer echoed off the high walls of the madrasa and into the surrounding village, dozens of boys, dressed in matching violet caps, poured out of their dorm rooms and headed to the mosque.

That afternoon prayer ritual, little changed since Middle Eastern traders traversing the Silk Road first arrived in western China more than 1,000 years ago, was at once quotidian and remarkable.

That is because in many parts of the officially atheist country, religious restrictions make it a crime to operate Islamic schools and bar people under 18 from entering mosques.

Asked about the Chinese government’s light touch here, Liu Jun, 37, the chief imam at the Banqiao Daotang Islamic School, offered a knowing smile.

“Muslims from other parts of China who come here, especially from Xinjiang, can’t believe how free we are, and they don’t want to leave,” he said, referring to the far-west borderlands that are home to China’s beleaguered Uighur ethnic minority. “Life for the Hui is very good.”

With an estimated Muslim population of 23 million, China has more followers of Islam than many Arab countries. Roughly half of them live in Xinjiang, an oil-rich expanse of Central Asia where a cycle of violence and government repression has alarmed human rights advocates and unnerved Beijing over worries about the spread of Islamic extremism.

But here in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a relatively recent administrative construct that is the official heartland of China’s Hui Muslim community, that kind of strife is almost nonexistent, as are the limitations on religion that critics say are fueling Uighur discontent.

Throughout Ningxia and the adjacent Gansu Province, new filigreed mosques soar over even the smallest villages, adolescent boys and girls spend their days studying the Quran at religious schools, and muezzin summon the faithful via loudspeakers — a marked contrast to mosques in Xinjiang, where the local authorities often forbid amplified calls to prayer.

In Hui strongholds like Linxia, a city in Gansu known as China’s “Little Mecca,” there are mosques on every other block and women can sometimes be seen with veils, a sartorial choice that can lead to detention in Xinjiang.

Source: Light Government Touch Lets China’s Hui Practice Islam in the Open – The New York Times

China’s ‘hidden generation’: plea to give citizenship to stateless children of trafficked North Koreans | South China Morning Post

Under-reported:

Campaigners have urged Beijing to give citizenship to a “hidden generation” of stateless children born to trafficked North Korean women forced into marriage or prostitution in China.

They said an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 children born to North Korean women in China have no nationality and therefore cannot access education, health care and basic rights that most people take for granted.

If their mothers are deported, they are often abandoned by their Chinese fathers, leaving them effectively orphaned, according to the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea.

Thousands of North Koreans have fled hunger and oppression in the secretive state since a famine in the mid-1990s. Many are in hiding in neighbouring China, which considers them illegal migrants.

The plight of their children is outlined in a report by the rights group co-authored by Yong Joon Park, a teenager now living in Britain who grew up stateless in China.

They treated him badly. His life was worse than the starving children in North Korea. His mother, Jihyun Park, said traffickers sold her as a wife to a poor Chinese farmer after she fled North Korea in 1998.

When their son was five in 2004 she was reported to the authorities and deported back to North Korea.

There she was sent to a labour camp where she endured “horrific conditions” and prisoners were “worked harder than animals”.

“All I could think of was seeing my son again,” said Park, who eventually managed to escape and return to China.

She found her son, but barely recognised him. His skin was filthy and flaking, and when he was hungry he was sent outside to pick up grains of rice from the ground.

“They treated him badly. His life was worse than the starving children in North Korea,” she said. “The Chinese government does not give children like my son a nationality so they cannot go to school.”

She and her son managed to cross the Chinese border into Mongolia and later moved to Britain and were accepted as refugees.

“When my son arrived in the UK he was nine. It was the first time he had a nationality and the first time he went to school.”

Now 16, he scored straight As in his exams this year and is hoping to go to university to become a lawyer.

Source: China’s ‘hidden generation’: plea to give citizenship to stateless children of trafficked North Koreans | South China Morning Post