China reopens long-abandoned halal regulation debate

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags: Halal food, China, People's republic of china, Han chinese

Beijing lawmakers are considering a new halal law 13 years after the country’s State Council ordered the legal provision, the council’s legal office has announced.

A divisive issue in China, halal food is currently governed by a mix of regional standards in an unsatisfactory system that is seen to hamper the country’s ability to export halal items in a burgeoning global Islamic market.

The concept of halal food is widely opposed by Han Chinese, though legislation to govern it centrally has been deemed “reasonable and necessary for national unity and stability​”, according to the Ethnic Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Activists among the majority Han claim that atheist China should not make exceptions for a Muslim minority that comprises less than 2% of the population. A growing trend among Chinese companies to label non-halal food as halal in a bid to gain business has resulted in occasional mob action by Muslims.

A halal law also faces opposition from some Chinese intellectuals. Last month, Xi Wuyi, an Marxism expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote on Weibo that halal legislation "violates the principal of separation of state and religion​”.

Related topics: Formulation, East Asia, Asian tastes, China

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