Gansu removes 4 halal-linked standards to curb religious extremism

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/17 14:57:55

To better protect minorities’ rights, curb religious extremism

Lanzhou-based noodle restaurant cooks prepare to make noodles. Lanzhou, Northwest China's Gansu Province is known for its beef noodles. Photo: VCG

Northwest China's Gansu Province recently abolished four halal-related local identification standards to fight the pan-halal tendency, which officials said would better protect the rights of minorities and curb religious extremism.

In accordance with relevant requirements of the country's Standardization Law, the Gansu provincial market regulation bureau decided to abolish four local halal-related identification standards on food, restaurants, dairy and noodle enterprises, according to a statement released on the bureau's website on Thursday.

Abolishing the halal identification standards conforms with the requirements of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee to fight the pan-halal tendency and protect the rights of China's minorities, an official at the Gansu Ethnic Affair Commission surnamed Wang told the Global Times.

The previous halal-related identification standards, which were set based on rules of Islam and foreign identification methods, heavily emphasized the religious nature, which contributed to the pan-halal issue. In the future, the halal-related identification will have no set standard but to follow and respect local ethnic customs, Wang noted.

The rising pan-halal tendency has fueled controversy in China as some netizens argue that Islamic rituals have been penetrating into their secular life.

Halal labels are widely seen on food, milk, toothpaste and tissue, and the prices of food with the halal logo are usually higher.

Six other provinces, including Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Shaanxi and Henan, Yunan provinces and Tianjin will also abolish their local halal-related identification standards, Wang noted.

The Global Times has not found relevant information on these provincial governments' websites as of press time.

"The halal food identification only applies to export-oriented products. The procedure is mostly conducted by the Linxia halal food international certification center. Starting 2016, domestic market halal food doesn't need to pass the identification procedure anymore," Wang said.

But halal producing companies still need to obtain halal labels from the ethnic affairs departments. Only qualified halal producing companies can tag halal labels on their products, he noted.

Gansu's four halal-related local identification standards on food, restaurants, dairy and noodle enterprises were released on 2013 and 2014. The halal identification standards were not compulsory and were considered as a reference for the authority to identify halal food.

"The pan-halal is believed to be the initial sign of religious extremism and is focused on identifying with Arabic culture. In the long run, the pan-halal tendency is expanding the estrangement of minorities," Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times on Monday.

China doesn't and won't have a unified identification standard for halal products, which shows the government's effort in maintaining a secular society, Zhu said.

Newspaper headline: Gansu removes 4 halal-linked standards


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