The Muslim Minorities in China: A Demographic and Socio-Economic Analysis
This paper examines the recent demographic and socio-economic changes among Muslims in the People’s Republic of China. Most of the analysis is based on the 2000 population census data; however, some 1990 census data have also been used. Although information on religion is not collected in the Chinese census, ethnic groups are identified. There are ten ethnic groups in China who are known to be Muslims. Our analysis shows that the growth rates of Muslims have declined between 1990 and 2000, but much less than the national average. There were large variations within the ten Muslim groups, many of whom, including Uygur - the second largest group - live in Xinjiang. The largest group, Hui, closely resembles the Han majority in ethnographic terms and is also spread throughout the country. The Hui people had a fertility rate nearly 38 percent above the Han average and the Uygur 60 percent higher. These rates represent not only a more relaxed attitude to the one-child policy but also other socio-cultural factors such as poor education and access to information and health services, and lower levels of economic development which characterise the remote areas. Mortality levels among many of the Muslim groups were higher than the national average. Many Muslim groups, particularly those living in Xinjiang, ranked significantly lower in terms of their levels of education, employment and socio-economic development. Although so far the current economic boom in China has not had any significant impact, one may hope that eventually it will benefit Muslims and others living in remote communities in China.
Keywords: China, Ethnic Minorities, Muslims
Prof. Farhat Yusuf
Professor, Department of Business