Ningxia renames river to back Chinese culture

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/26 22:48:41

The Ningxia government has changed a river from its Arabic-sounding name to a Chinese name in a bid to bolster traditional Chinese culture and rid the autonomous region of religious generalization, analysts noted Wednesday.

Aiyi, the old Chinese name for the river in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, sounds to some people like the Arabic word "Ayishah," said Wang Genming, a researcher at the Ningxia University institute of Hui studies. In 2017, Hui Muslims made up 36 percent of the region's population.

Ayishah was also one of Prophet Muhammad's wives, Wang told the Global Times.

The Ningxia government has changed the river name to "Diannong" after an on-the-spot exploration and discussions among experts, according to the Ningxia Daily news website, citing the Ningxia civil affairs bureau.

"Diannong" derives from the old Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) name for Ningxia's capital city, currently named Yinchuan.

The river starts in Yongning county, spanning 180 kilometers and six counties, and ends at its confluence with the Yellow River near the city of Shizuishan.

A professor of ethnic studies at Minzu University of China in Beijing hailed the renaming.

"This conforms to China's policy of Sinicizing religions and adapting them to socialist society as well as fitting with local history and culture," Xiong Kunxin told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Shen Guiping, a religious expert at the Central Institute of Socialism, told the Global Times that as the mother river of the region, "the Diannong River can better deliver the spirit of traditional Chinese culture and trace back to history."

The Diannong is just the latest nomenclature adjustment. Throughout the autonomous region, roads, neighborhoods and restaurants have been adopting new names to "better reflect Chinese culture," experts told the Global Times.

In Yinchuan, Zhong'azhizhou, or "China-Arab axis," has been renamed "Tuanjie Lu" or "Unity Road" in Chinese.

And in March, the city began to change the road from the "original Arabic style landscape to one that reflects the style of Chinese cultural elements," according to the Xinhua News Agency.

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