27 November 2016
China argues that the "halal" label is being used to "spread pan-Islamist tendencies in the market", according to the country's state-run news media.
China seeks to seriously address the problem of "hyping up" the halal food concept and abuse of halal logos, a senior religious affairs official said on Saturday, amid worries that religion is intruding more into secular life in the country.
Halal food is food prepared according to Islamic law, as defined in the Qur'an. Islam lays down how meat that is to be consumed is slaughtered and that is called "halal" meat. This use of the term is acknowledged and is not being targeted by the present campaign.
Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, made the remarks at the opening session of the 10th National Congress of Chinese Muslims on Saturday.
Addressing some 300 Muslim leaders at the congress, Wang said that they should guide their followers to not simply follow the leadership of a foreign religion or treat foreign values as exemplary.
The administration said it will tackle the "halal hyping", twisting or expansion of the halal concept, the China Daily said on its official Sina Weibo account on Saturday.
Chinese Muslims should resolutely oppose religious extremism, said Wang, stressing the development of Islam in China should stick to socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The government must be vigilant to the pan-Islamist tendencies in the market, like halal water, halal toilet paper, halal toothpaste and halal cosmetics, Li Jianhua, secretary of the Communist Party of China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region committee was quoted as saying by thepaper.cn during a religious work meeting in April.
By elaborately expanding the concept of "halal," some foreign forces are selling their malicious ideas of pan-Islamism and desinicization in a bid to sabotage China's national security, social stability and unity among ethnic groups, Xiong Kunxin, professor of ethnic studies at Beijing's Minzu University of China, told the Global Times.
The anti-terrorism regulation adopted in August in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region could also serve a good example for efforts by the governments to curb the elaborate misinterpretation of the concept of "halal," Xiong said.
The regulation states that those who have twisted the concept of "halal," which usually only applies to food, and have expanded the concept to all aspects of social life, will be fined up to 10,000 yuan ($1,446) or detained for five to 15 days.
While respecting Muslims' beliefs and customs, religious interference in the fields of politics, justice and education is intolerable, Wang said.
Xiong said that any violations that affect normal social order, be they committed by either religious or non-religious individuals, should be sanctioned by law.
To deter meddling in education in southern Xinjiang in the name of religion, Xinjiang education authorities issued a new regulation in October, which stipulates that obstructing students from receiving high school education in the name of religion will bear a legal liability.
China has a Muslim population of more than 23 million, mostly living in the country's north and northwest.
Deng Xiaoci, "Govt to tackle problem of hyping, twisting halal concept" Global Times November 27, 2016
Shailaja Neelakantan, "China to crack down on 'hyping' of halal products to contain 'pan-Islamism'" The Times of India November 28, 2016
Laura Zhou, "China’s Muslims urged to resist extremism" South China Morning Post November 27, 2016