History – Early Muslim Ties with China
Islam was introduced to China as early as the 7th century (during the Tang Dynasty) when merchants from Arabia and Persia came to China to trade via the Silk Road. In AD.651, the third Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan, sent an envoy to call on the reigning Tang Emperor Gao Zong, and since then Islam began to be found in many parts of China.
In the midst of trade and cultural exchanges across the Asia-Europe continent for the next few centuries, streams of Muslim immigrants from central Asia settled permanently in China. They had contacts with local Chinese Muslim converts. They carried on their faith, built mosques and cemeteries and gradually created a unique social unit of their own.
However all these exchanges gradually diminished during the Ming and Qing(Manchu) Dynasties and they came to a stop with the establishment of the Communist government. It was only in the 1980’s under the leadership of Deng Xiaopeng that China slowly open up to tourists from all over the world.
Muslims in the present day era
Today China has ten Muslim nationalities, numbering more than 30 million Muslims. They are the Hui, Uighur, Kazakh, Dongxiang, Khalkhas, Salar, Tajik, Uzbek, Baoan and Tartar. These nationalities have their own written and spoken languages and cultures and their unique ethnic traditions.
When the Republic of China was formed in 1911 the Muslims were recognised as a Race in China. Now the Communist Government calls all Muslims as the HUI race. The national constitution testified to the freedom of faith.
Beijing has about 200,000 Muslims, Xian — 60,000, Shanghai – 100,000 and Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, a modest 30,000.