While the majority of those who have been detained by security services as part of a vast and ongoing repression of ethnoreligious minorities by the Chinese Communist Party has been the region’s indigenous Uyghurs, the Hui – another Muslim group of over 10 million people – have also been rounded up.
Often referred to as the “Chinese Muslims,” the Hui are an ethnic group made up from more than 1,000 years of mixed marriages between Han Chinese and the Turkic tribes of western China and Mongolia as well as Persians. While largely based in inner China, where they are known for their mosques and hand-pulled noodle soup restaurants, the Hui are also significant minority in Xinjiang, where over a million of them live alongside their fellow co-religionists, the Uyghurs.
Aside from their Muslim faith, the language, culture, and appearance of the Hui are far closer to the Han Chinese, China’s dominant ethnic group. Despite this close connection, a number of recent reports by rights groups indicate that the Hui are now being targeted by Beijing and are being interred in re-education camps with the Uyghurs.
The Chinese Communist Party claims the crackdown on the country’s Muslim population is part of its campaign to crack down on extremism in the country. Independent observers and international aid organisations say, however, that the incarceration of the Uyghurs, Hui, and ethnic Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region is part of Xi Jinping’s campaign to stamp out any opposition to his rule and to further solidify the Communist Party’s stranglehold on absolute power in areas that are traditionally not populated by ethnic Han Chinese.