Li drops in for a chat at historic mosque

Updated: 2016-02-03 01:27

By ZHANG YUE in Yinchuan(China Daily)

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Li drops in for a chat at historic mosque

Premier Li Keqiang chats with a group of ethnic Hui people on Tuesday at the Najiahu Mosque in Yongning county, Ningxia Hui autonomous region. Pang Xinglei / Xinhua

A mosque in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region welcomed a special visitor on Tuesday when Premier Li Keqiang stepped into the main hall and chatted with a group of Muslims.

The premier visited the Najiahu Mosque in Yongning county on the second day of his trip to Ningxia ahead of Spring Festival.

Built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the mosque is one of the most historic in Ningxia.

It embraces a history of 492 years and has been refurbished many times, the most recent being in 2014, when it was enlarged. It is maintained by 4,500 Muslims in Yongning county.

Removing his shoes, Li stepped into the main hall and sat down with the Muslims to talk with them and learn about their lives and ideas.

He said he was delighted to visit the mosque and see that it had been refurbished well.

"There is a famous saying in Chinese that a harmonious family brings the prosperity of everything," the premier said as he began talking with the ethnic Hui people at the mosque.

"I am very delighted to see that the lives of local people in Ningxia have improved a lot."

Yang Faming, vice-president of the regional Islam Association, sat beside Li during the discussion.

At age 50, Yang is the association's youngest vice-president and has been studying the Quran for 34 years.

On hearing this, the premier encouraged him to combine his understanding of the Quran with the situation in Ningxia.

The region is home to the largest ethnic Hui community in China, which comprises 35.5 percent of the population in Ningxia. The ethnic Hui group is also one of China's largest such groups that believes in Islam.

Yang Zhibo, vice-president of the China Islamic Association, said he was pleased when he learned about Li's visit to the mosque and was excited about the government's encouragement for the care of ethnic groups in China.

He said he hoped the government would strengthen its efforts to tackle poverty in the northwest of the country, which is home to a majority of China's ethnic groups that believe in Islam.

Wang Qingyun contributed to this story.