Xi urges Muslims to merge faith, culture

Updated: 2016-07-21 08:57

By Li Xiaokun(China Daily)

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President notes during tour of Ningxia how living conditions have improved.

President Xi Jinping is encouraging Muslims to practice their religion as part of Chinese society, to adhere to Chinese direction, resist illegal religious infiltration and carry forward the patriotic tradition.

He made the remarks on Tuesday during an inspection tour of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

"Religions in our country, the endemic ones and those from abroad, have become deeply embedded in the Chinese civilization, whose history covers more than 5,000 years,"

Xi said while visiting a mosque in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia.

"They will continue to flourish only by taking root here," he said.

The president said he expected religious figures to continue carrying forward the patriotic tradition and to play an active role in local poverty alleviation.

While listening to work reports of provincial leaders, Xi demanded that local governments firmly resist illegal religious infiltration and promote social harmony.

More than 2.4 million Muslims live in Ningxia, a region that boasts more than 5,000 religious sites, nearly 4,391 of them Islamic.

Li Daguang, a researcher at the PLA National Defense University, said that throughout history, China has been very open to various religions.

"The Chinese government is happy to see the religions in our country merging with the local culture, but it objects to activities that under the guise of religion actually hamper national stability and unity."

Xi began the Ningxia inspection trip on Monday.

In Minning, a town in Yongning county, Xi recalled the sheer poverty he found in Ningxia during his visit as a high-ranking official of Fujian province in 1997. He pushed forward a program of cooperation between Fujian and Ningxia to alleviate that poverty.

In that program, residents of places in Ningxia with difficult natural conditions were relocated to the area where a new village named Minning was built. Min refers to Fujian and Ning stands for Ningxia.

That village has become the town of Minning, and the annual per capita income has grown from 500 yuan (about $70) in 1997 to more than 10,000 yuan.

"I'm gratified to see you have started to live a good life, and your faces show happiness," he told the town's residents.