China Power

China Bans Ramadan Fasting in Xinjiang Schools, Government Offices

Plus, RIMPAC 2014, US-China relations, and unraveling the mysteries of the CCDI and shuanggui. This week’s China links.

Shannon Tiezzi
China Bans Ramadan Fasting in Xinjiang Schools, Government Offices
Credit: Xinjiang Muslims image via Pete Niesen/Shutterstock

Time for the weekly China links round-up:

The Associated Press reports that schools and government offices in China’s Xinjiang region have posted statements banning fasting during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. The statements justified the ban as an attempt to protect the well-being of students and keep schools and Party branches from promoting religion. The restrictions seem particularly targeted at students: in addition to the focus on preventing fasting at schools, in one city retired teachers were asked to prevent students from entering mosques.

Chinese government bans on fasting and other worship activities during Ramadan are not new, but they are receiving far more attention in the wake of several deadly terror attacks in the past year. Some human rights groups have alleged that government restrictions on the expression of religion in Xinjjiang are encouraging rather than preventing religious extremism. Meanwhile, Xinhua’s official Twitter account posted photographs of Muslims celebrating Ramadan in China, perhaps an attempt to hit back at criticisms that China is curtailing religious freedoms.

In other news, China Daily highlights the people-to-people aspect of China’s participation in RIMPAC 2014. The paper quotes RIMPAC commander Vice Admiral Kenneth Floyd as saying that soldiers from each of the 22 participating nations are “going to remember RIMPAC and that they got to know each other.” Floyd added, “In the future when we meet each other on the high seas … we’ll certainly remember how we worked together.”

Over at the Washington Post, William Wan tries to go behind the anti-corruption campaign in China by profiling to notoriously secretive Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Wan interviews sources from within CCDI and the Party to give a better picture of the current anti-corruption effort. Little is known about how the CCDI chooses its targets, but Wan’s sources confirm the widely held notion that most officials are charged because of their connection to a higher-ranking patron, the most notable being Zhou Yongkang. The anti-corruption investigations themselves apparently include a mix of high-tech data gathering and old-fashioned coercive interrogation techniques.

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David Wertime of Foreign Policy and Tea Leaf Nation has more on that latter point, with an investigation of the dreaded shuanggui, the CCDI’s extra-judicial interrogation sessions, which can last six months or more. Though few details are available about what actually goes on during shuanggui, the publicly available reports suggests the process is psychologically and physically brutal. Interestingly, as Wertime notes, part of Wang Qishan’s efforts include better regulation of the shuanggui process itself.

Finally, in case you missed it, former U.S. Ambassador to China (and Founding Director Emeritus of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States) J. Stapleton Roy delivered a clear-sighted summary of the challenges facing U.S.-China relationship in his testimony at a Senate hearing last week. After outlining sources of tension, Roy concludes that “conventional diplomacy will not be sufficient to limit and hopefully reverse our strategic rivalry with China and to avoid the historical pattern of confrontation between rising powers and established ones.”