Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Natural Progression

There is a story in Sunday’s New York Times about how the communist administration in Xinjiang, a large autonomous province in northwestern China, is controlling the practice of Islam among the 19 million Uighur residents of Xinjiang. An excerpt:

Two of Islam’s five pillars — the sacred fasting month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca called the hajj — are also carefully controlled. Students and government workers are compelled to eat during Ramadan, and the passports of Uighurs have been confiscated across Xinjiang to force them to join government-run hajj tours rather than travel illegally to Mecca on their own.

It seems to me that the communist rule and its negative aspects in China are most evident in the the provinces which are not the at the centre of the country’s economic development. In the eastern coastal provinces, which have almost all of China’s booming port cities, the government tries to shift the focus from its all-encompassing authority to its more benign nature and its enormous successes in the development.

But then, it could also be argued that economic development and upward mobility in a region results in its inhabitants placing more and more importance on their economic well-being and keeping their religious beliefs and practices to themselves. The administration, too, then has less and less incentive to clamp down on them.

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