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Uyghur Christians in Muslim Xinjiang

September 23 | 91 Comments

Uyghur Christians are a rare find in Xinjiang, making up less than 2% of this primarily Muslim people group.  Although the Uyghur as a whole have never been extremely devout Muslims, Islam is such an integral part of their identity that conversion isn’t common.

Muslim Uyghur pray on the last day of Ramadan

Unfortunately what isn’t as rare is China’s paranoid attitude toward religion in Xinjiang.

To be clear, when I say “China” I really mean the local security bureau. And to their credit, they aren’t biased toward any particular religion – they despise pretty much all of them.

In their eyes, any religion presents a threat to national security.

Kashgar Christian Sentenced to 15 Years (2010)

A perfect example of this is a Uyghur Christian named Alimjan Yimit. He was arrested back in January of 2008 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for “preaching Christianity”.

Alimjan Yimit, a Uyghur Christian from Kashgar
A picture of Alimjan

In 2011, he was denied an appeal. For years, nobody heard from him (including his wife Gulnar) until he was transferred from the Kashgar prison to one in the capital of Urumqi.

His family was given permission to visit him, but not his lawyers. Apparently, authorities in Xinjiang are worried that “preaching” is going to lead to violence??

Here’s the official story in China:

Alimjan Yimit was initially arrested for his religious activity but was later charged with “selling state secrets” (which is similar in ambiguity to the American phrase “irreconcilable differences”).

What secrets, you ask?

He conducted a couple interviews with foreign media.

His case has been called “arbitrary” by the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and was listed as the “Top 10 Cases of Religious Persecution in China” by China Aid. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, but that doesn’t make it any more devestating.

The State of Christianity in Xinjiang

Many people don’t realize that there are actually government-approved Christian churches in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi.  I have personally been inside and sat in on a couple services.

According to Chinese law, the government is required to supply registered religious organizations with a plot of land and a building in which to meet.

Key word: registered.

The ambiguous maze of legality in China is difficult for Christians, both Uyghur and Han, to navigate.

Activities such as distributing religious materials and intending to convert people to Christianity violate laws in all of China, but since in Xinjiang the stakes are higher the enforcement of these laws tends to be more strict.

House churches exist, but they have been heavily persecuted over the years (both Han and Uyghur).

The Problem for Uyghur Christians

The problem for Uyghur Christians is how all of this – society and the law – work against them.

Conversion for a Uyghur, as with many Middle-Eastern peoples, usually results in friction with or abandonment by their family.  When they lose their families they must look elsewhere to find support and like-minded believers.

Unfortunately, because of fear between the Han and Uyghur, their presence in a government-approved church is difficult. Racial tension aside, none of the materials or services in these churches are offered in the Uyghur languages (at least from what I have personally witnessed).

Finally, to try to convert their friends is against Chinese law. Such was the case for Alimjan Yimit who was the leader of a house church in Kashgar.

The result of this unfortunate situation is 15 years in a Urumqi jail with only monthly visits from his wife and two kids.

What does China fear about religion?

I’m still not entirely sure, but if nothing else, China is good at one thing: forgetting history.

What happens when you persecute religion, particularly Christianity? This, at least in history, is when it thrives the most.

Sources & Extended Reading:

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

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  1. The obvious answer to your question is that the Communist Party is officially atheist and has always looked askance at this “opiate of the masses”. (whether Communism itself is a form of secular religion is a question the CCP would rather not answer). But I think that what they fear most is the organized nature of most religions. Those groups they cannot co-opt (the official, patriotic religions), they feel very threatened by. The quasi-religious falun gong is a perfect example. It was only when they organized a large scale protest around Zhongnanhai in Beijing that they were pursued in earnest. It seems as long as religious belief doesn’t have a social component there is an implicit tolerance, so you still see offerings of incense in Buddhist temples and those little bonfire offerings that accompany traditional holidays.

    I am surprised how many Christian missionaries openly operate businesses, “study”, etc. in Urumqi and are not discovered. (they always seemed pretty obvious). As long as it remains low key, they seemed to be tolerated.


    Josh on May 7th, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Missionaries in Xinjiang have to tread a fine line as well (it’s not illegal to be a Christian, obviously, nor to be a businessman), and they’re not always successful. A few years ago there was big hoopla over quite a few people who were being kicked out of the province because somewhere along the way they stepped over the line.

    I can’t verify this and it may sound “anti-Chinese” to say, but I think that line is often ethnic. Thoughts?


    kahraman on May 7th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    If the line you refer to is proselytizing to Uyghurs you may be on to something. It seems stories about Uyghur house church leaders being arrested are fairly common. I don’t recall that being the case with Han church leaders in Xinjiang (or other minorities). But that may just reflect that Uyghurs are more likely to be involved with underground churches.

  2. Yes, it’s true that there are government approved churches in China… and so-call other non-approved church organizations in China. I am aware of all these because I am a Christian (Catholic). And I also do always pray for the reconciliation between of all these government approved churches and the so-call other non-approved churches. I also really hope for the days will come as the Catholic Church in China will also reconcile with Vatican where our Pope Benedict is.

    But in those years of the cultural revolution of China it’s even worse… Churches were burned… priest, religious and Christian were imprisoned. Beside Christianity were affected during the revolution, Muslim, Buddhist and other religions were affected also… especially when Dalai Lama and his gang who always like to accused what China had done to the Buddhist in Tibet during the revolution period…
    But we mustn’t forget that all of the damaged done by the “red guard” in Tibet during the revolution time were mostly the “ethnic Tibetan red guard”… where they hated the lama so much due to what they had done to their society before 1959…

    But ever since after the revolution where China admitted their mistakes had done… China invested a lot to rebuild all the churches, mosques, monasteries, temples… and religion is once again being legal in China… though it’s still a sensitive issue for religion in China, but it’s already far more much better than before.

    Christianity organizations from the west entered China during the Yuan Dynasty… the first official church to be build in China was during the Qing Dynasty. The Emperor Kangxi was also very fond of Christianity and he was nearly being converted into Christianity but didn’t in the end as due to certain matter… but still they honored the Christianity and do promote the religion. But as due to many of the westerner (British, French…) were making use of China with all their dirty political ways. China was humiliated in many ways by the west for many years during the Qing Dynasty… and the sad thing was that Christianity was also sometime being made used by the west as an excuse for them to mistreat China. As I mentioned before that some of the few great humiliation China suffered from the west were the “conquered” of the Hong Kong and the burring down of their Summer Palace with all their treasure being looting away by the west, and till now… China still has to purchase those treasures back from the west. Many thousand million of innocent Chinese died under the hand of all these westerners during that period.
    So in certain period during the Qing Dynasty… churches had already being persecuted in China due to all their humiliations done by the west, but there were still some high Qing Court official like Prince Kong who was there to protect the benefit of the churches there.

    It’s true that in our present days, there are still certain people who still hate those certain roles by the Christian during the Qing Dynasty that they can’t forgive them for what had happened before in China. After the communist government took over China when China didn’t want the same disaster to happen again like during the Qing Dynasty, Christianity became a sensitive religion in China where it was persecuted badly during the revolution period.

    As I had said since China now had already admitted their mistakes done during the revolution and now they are rebuilding all the churches… I had already since forgiven them. Hope that every one of us will stop digging again their past mistakes to accuse them again.

    Though I understand that Christianity is still not really totally being open in China now a days… but I already being very appreciated for what now the CCP had given and done to their churches now. Even though that every of their Catholic ritual maybe a little bit different from our Catholic churches elsewhere since theirs are the government approved churches… but at least the one very important figure which is our God Jesus Christ is there for every of their Chinese Christian there.
    Even our Pope said it will takes times for China churches to be totally reconcile with the Vatican… we have to be patient.

    Josh, I think your write-up about this part of your article is not that accurate where I think you have to understand more about the Christian Church in China first, where you wrote:


    The ambiguous maze of legality in China is difficult for Christians, both Uyghur and Han, to navigate. Activities such as distributing religious materials and intending to convert people to Christianity violate laws in all of China, but since in Xinjiang the stakes are higher the enforcement of these laws tends to be more strict….


    And according to your info from that particular site about the mishap happened to that Uyghur Christian… I think it still has to look more onto the real situation of it…
    As I did just mentioned in my previous comment that:

    There is another case of a Christian religious man who went aboard for certain missionaries work… and news from the west claimed that he was arrested and detained for sometimes when he was back in China. And of course the west also exaggerated about all his moment while during his detention. But after sometimes, he was released. And the real situation was that actually he was trying to use another person’s traveling passport while in the immigration. So of course the Chinese authorities will detain him for that. And after some months passed, this religious man was even appointed as some important religious committee leader by the CCP too! But all these were not mention by the western news at all. So is it how considering as one-sided news as I always said?

    Well, I am a Christian (Catholic) and I do know that there are many hundreds of thousands of converted Christian yearly in China with our Catholic church project “RCIA” there in China… so of course Christian in china are allow to evangelize everywhere in China!!!

    When I understand from my fellow Chinese Christian there is that though it is true that there are really certain area in China where Christianity is really being sensitive and tense… but in general, Christianity is legal and being open in China.

    Josh, do you know that China got the biggest market for printing Bible and they produce officially the most Bible in the world now?
    During the 2008 Beijing Olympic period, CCP distributed thousands of Bibles for the guests…
    The CCP even urged the Chinese Catholic to hold Masses (A Catholic prayer celebration) on the opening and the closing days of the Beijing Olympic in 2008.
    A Chinese Catholic Bishop Peter Fang Jianping was invited by CCP to run in the torch relay… and he told a Catholic News agency of Asia (Not a base in China) that the Chinese government has made progress in recent years in carrying out its religious policies and in expressing concerns over religious issue to religious leaders. A Chinese Catholic priest Father Paul Meng Ningyou from the diocese of Taiyuan in Shanxi province was also invited by the CCP to run in the torch relay.
    Before the game, one of the Chinese Catholic told the Asian Catholic News that he want their Chinese Catholic to show to the foreign athletes, visitors and the world that the China church is liberal and energetic… he also noted Beijing diocese is baptizing more and more young and educated people each year.
    A Chinese Catholic nun Sister Dong Siuhong also expressing hope that foreign visitors would gain a better image of the China church than what they might have had a few decades ago.

    A Chinese Catholic priest Father Joseph Zhao Qinglong is one of those Catholic priests who even went aboard to Rome Italy for courses…
    There are also some Catholic priests, religious or bishops who use to come to our country for mission where they too can travel to elsewhere also. They are not bound by the CCP at all.

    Remember that I did mentioned before that though there are many cases of ill-treatment by the law maker in China… but sometimes it may not be exactly the actual law given by CCP (which mean some law are “self created” by the corruption official). That maybe a kind of very bad situation for China… so yes, I really agree China should pay more attention on these corruption officials who are the one who always spoil the reputation of China.

    So I really can say that most of the “bad” news about China can either be in a misleading way, exaggerated, without proof or just mainly a way of propaganda…
    It’s very important for us to know more about certain news from many sources and not only from the one-sided news.
    And remember that there are many so-calls “Anti-China” website around us which is mainly funded by the western government agent. Many of these are paid propaganda project by the west (maybe they are paid 52 cents from it… haha, just a joke).

    Look into the websites of some of these Catholic dioceses of their China provinces and you will know that Churches are generally being function normally in China. If Chinese Christian are really being that pathetic where he have to always suffer torturing by the CCP as some people might think… there won’t be anymore Christian there representing China anymore.

    For the case of this Uyghur Christian Alimjan Yimit maybe some extreme cases where we do really need to understand more about the real fact but not only depend on certain one-sided news… it may not be a kind of case where it’s that’s simple… where the actual fact maybe also due to certain sensitive political matter also. (As I believe, never ever involve and mix politic together with religion)

    I think it is important for religion to be “registered” in anywhere… just like China. China has the rights to scan through certain religious organizations as to prevent certain unofficial religious cult group like Falun gong, to carry on their practice in China. And Falun gong is also the religious group who believe that sin was brought into this world by Alien… the Falun gong in America also held a big parade celebrating the mishap happened in Sichuan earthquake in 2008.
    As we know that there are many misleading religious cult group around everywhere in this world where some of them do have certain political motives also. So I think it is very important to “register” any religious organization in anywhere. Remember Aum Shinrikyo, the religious cult group which was founded by the man Shoko Asahara where they it carried out a sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subways in 1995.
    And Dalai Lama claimed that Shoko Asahara is his good friend and Dalai Lama did show support to his organization before the attack.

    In conclusion, I am very happy to see Christianity among the Uyghur also…
    Hope that one day the Christianity in China will be totally open and reconcile with us and the Vatican (even though they are already in link with our Lord Jesus Christ).
    And I will continue in praying for them and the whole China.

    Just a little sharing is that, Christian is being one of the groups of people who suffered a lot in this world ever since many years ago… and many of them died as Martyrs.
    Nagasaki got the most number of Catholic Christian and churches in Japan… and most of them died during the 2nd atomic bomb by the US in order to end the world war in Asia and Pacific. These Japanese Catholics in Nagasaki were one of those many who died to paid for, and to end all the world sin and cruelty which was done by Japan before.

    Anyway may…

    God bless China!
    God bless any of those “unfortunate Christian” also.


    kahraman on May 7th, 2010 at 5:22 am

    @Akihiro Your posts can be interesting. I just wish you would admit to being Chinese and a somewhat of a nationalist. Much of what you write sounds too much like a CCP functionary. You don’t seem to question any of those received truths. Not even the most ardent Japanese Sinophile would go to such lengths to defend the Party and its policies.


    Akihiro on May 7th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    And for kahraman…

    I really have nothing to say to you since you believe in you own assumption… that I am a Chinese.
    Sorry that I don’t mean to be rude to you… that the world is so great with so many different kinds of characteristic people around… please don’t base on only your certain knowledge on certain characteristic of Japanese and start assuming on every Japanese…

    And lastly please don’t assume that anyone who speak out for China is a Chinese communist… again the world is so great… you will be surprise to see millions of all different kind of non-Chinese there who would speak out for China.

    reddiye on March 5th, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Mr Akihiro:
    Dont bother yourself, you are Chinese, you are not Japanese.

    Josh on May 7th, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Akihiro, I can understand where some people might have disagreements with this article in many different areas, but you surprise me in that the parts you disagree with are the ones that are most well-documented.

    Take, for instance, the “mishap” of this Uyghur Christian. I am relying on information provided by the UN (which China takes part in) who had previously obtained court records from the Chinese government itself. What more of the “real situation” am I missing? I think it’s clear from what the government admits that religion was a key to this man’s incarceration. Official corruption had little, if anything, to do with it.

    Also, I am aware that China is the leading printer of Bibles in all of the world. It came as a shock to me when I learned that a couple years ago, but it’s true. However, my statement that “distributing religious materials and intending to convert people to Christianity violate laws” was not arbitrary – it’s a direct translation of Chinese law. Can you direct me as to how I have misinterpreted this part of China’s law?

    Finally, and most confusing to me: you say that it is important that churches have to be “registered” with any government…yet you turn around and say that you should never mix politics and religion. Explanation?


    Akihiro on May 7th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Personally I don’t think China will imprison someone for such a long sentence unless this fellow may really in suspicious of certain political motives…
    Or it’s as what I really think that this maybe just some kind of work by those corruption official where they wanted to silent someone.
    Even though this info was provided by UN… they are still a man made organization.
    I don’t believe the actual law given down by the CCP will be that unreasonable as to sentence him just for that…

    In my country… there is lot of Chinese migrants who came here to work as some lower level work like cleaner, factories, construction worker…
    Most of them which I like to communicate with, used to share with me a similar view on their China… which is ultimately; they feel that they have a good government and their CCP do wanted to mean well for them…
    What they are disappointed, are those corruption officers where they are there always making use of the common citizens money for their own benefit… and they are famous for setting up their own laws and sentence without trial or other ways of unlawful act for just to suit to their own convenient. And whenever there are people who would like to complain, it became an offence for these people by these corruption officials.

    That’s why I feel that the case of Alimjan Yimit may have much more content which suppose to look into rather than just look at it on surface.
    Although it may not be an excuse, but China is really a very big land which is not land where it can be easily taken care of or scanning through everywhere…
    For the corruption side of China… they really need a very good managing system to work on it… which this is also a very great problem for them all these years.
    I believe they are working on it daily… so I can only pray for them since I am not a part of them.
    Regarding of their written law about it… I believe there are much more in-depth to look upon it and we must understand it not only by literally…
    If not how can we explain the growing numbers of the Christian in China? … and some of these testimonies given by some Chinese religious people?

    That’s why there are so many different kinds of Christian organizations in this world who always like to understand the words of God from the Bible literally also… and transform their Christian law differently which also causes many misunderstand on them from others…

    Lastly regarding the registration for churches and mixing of politic with religion… that’s totally a different issue…
    Let me quote you an example of mixing politic with religion: Dalai Lama

    Of course we have to register any religious organization before they really set up and started influencing people…
    Do you expect an evil or demonic worship religion to set up anytime and any place legally? That’s ridicules…
    At least any government should set a guide line on it… like registration.

    kahraman on May 7th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Sure, corruption is a problem in China and one that many realize. But that its still very difficult to see how that relates directly to this case. That is pure speculation and I loathe conspiracy theories. If you had something concrete, you may change my mind. The Chinese government has never clearly defined what a ‘state secret’ is. It seems highly unlikely that Yimit was really some serious threat to national security or it would be front page news.

    I’m curious about your view on registration of religion. You self identify as a religious believer, yet you fear that religions will ‘influence people’. Any religions that didn’t influence people significantly would be meaningless, antisocial and pointless. That also seems to suggest that you trust government not to shape the fundamental nature of religion. In the case of China, the authorities regulating religious practice are themselves dogmatic atheists. Would you really trust such authorities not to be actively hostile to your or any other faith?

  3. If Uyghur were Muslim, half of them would miss their right hand.

    Uyghur also hates Dongan muslim.

    Talk to a few Dongan muslim in XJ, you will know.

    Speak of American’s own dirty laundry, being muslim in America today who cannot speak English is no better than being Uyghur in China, who cannot speak Chinese.


    kahraman on May 7th, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Almost all Uyghurs are Muslim and I’ve never seen a Uyghur missing a hand….(What does that mean anyway?) Admit it, you didn’t even read the post before commenting.


    Josh on May 7th, 2010 at 7:14 am

    I assume you’re implying that all Uyghur are thieves? It really irks me when people generalize a people group and such is the case here.

    Dongan Muslims are usually referred to now as “Hui”, and you are very misled. Although Hui and Uyghur won’t worship together in the same mosque, that doesn’t default to hatred. Again, you’re making broad statements about groups of people that are made up of a multitude of individuals.

    Wouldn’t you say that’s a bit unreasonable?


    joyce on May 7th, 2010 at 7:40 am

    “Kill Hans, wipe out Huis and expel Mongols”.

    You don’t know that?! Among the 200 dead in july 2009 riot,there were 11 Huis,one Manchu and one Kazak(?). It was not Uyghur/Han, but Uyghur/non Uyghur.

    Josh on May 7th, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Are you quoting from something you expect me to know?

    Also, are you aware that this Uyghur Christian wasn’t in Urumqi during the riots? So do you believe he deserves the sentence he has received on account of his ethnicity?

    tez on May 8th, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I think in the madness of those days the killing was quite indiscriminate. If you didnt look Uyghur, then you could have been mistaken for Han. This would of been bad for the Hui if they weren’t wearing their typical white skull caps. I think you are exaggerating this aspect as if it was a Uyghur plot to kill all non-Uyghur rather than an outburst of ethnic violence aimed at the Han.

    joyce on May 7th, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    That was probably the battle cry for Uyghur when they had their Xinjiang. Some witnesses heard it again during the riot. You can tell why they did not have sole claim of the land even before PRC and they wanted to take out the potential challenges. It has not been Uyghur versus Han, but Uyghur versus non Uyghur. When Qing took the territory, Mongols were dominant and they were decimated by Qing. Frank is right that Uyghur hate Han, but not just Han.

    This sentence is harsh, but not because of his ethnicity. Remember F* L*n G*ng? An AIDS activist was arrested because he passed “state secret” to foreigners.

    He was warned that he was doing something against law. Could you explain why he did not stop? He passed “state secret” to an American National who happened to be fluent in both Uyghur and Chinese. There is definitely more there and maybe the gov’t knows more about the foreigner. I am curious who is ChinaAid and who is funding ChinaAid.

    I personally do not mind that all religions are banned. If I have to choose between a commie state and a religious state, I will choose the commie state over and over again. So I support the gov’t controls the religious powers.

    Josh on May 8th, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s unfortunate that you don’t want to allow a peaceful man to express the joy of his beliefs with his friends and neighbors.

    If you weren’t so set in your ways it might be easier to look at this as an individual case. Forget Uyghur, forget China, forget the “state”. This man hurt no one. He threatened no one. 15 years. Have you no sense of compassion?

    I would like to state once-and-for all for everybody who wants to claim that there is “more to this story”…

    …if this man had ANYTHING to do with terrorism, national security, or the riots, China would have already said so. The very fact that this card hasn’t been played tells me that this case has everything to do with religion and ethnicity.

    tez on May 8th, 2010 at 8:39 am


    “The territorial state is such an ancient form of society – here in Europe it dates back thousands of years – that it is now protected by the sanctity of age and the glory of tradition. A strong religious feeling mingles with the respect and the devotion to the fatherland.”

    Christian Lous Lange

    tez on May 8th, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Joyce in case you cant find this on the net here is CA home page it doesnt say who funds them but they seem to be a christian group who support persecuted believers in all countries not just China:

    tez on May 8th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Sorry Joyce, I got that wrong. CA does seem to just focus on China.

  4. The government is Xinjiang is not as closed to religion as some people make out.

    Near Shihezi there are two Buddhist temples with people openly practicing there faith.You can clearly see the new Buddhist temple (probably finished its construction by now) next to the motorway at Mannas.

    Up in the mountains behind Shihezi there is a huge 50 mtr Buddha carved into the side of a mountain which took many years to finish(still not finished) and people practicing there faith and teaching people about Buddhist faith at the foot of the Buddha.

    There is no shortage of Mosque’s in Xinjiang just have to know where to look.

    There is a christian church group in Shihezi.


    Josh on May 7th, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Interesting observation but I want to follow up with two points:

    1) To openly practice my faith includes the ability to share it with others. Therefore, a faith that is truly open is technically against Chinese law.

    2) I’m not interested in the number of temples/mosques/churches. I’m want to know why, if religion is tolerated in China…why are there still cases like this where a man is given such a harsh sentence for his religious convictions?

    Is the group in Shihezi an organized church or just a “group”. There are plenty of “groups” all over the province.


    damo on May 7th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Josh you should have known ” to openly practice my faith” in China especially Xinjiang is a big NO NO.Your a guest in their country.You don’t like it stay home and practice your faith there.

    It was no doubt in your teaching contract.

    It really galls me these “westerners” coming to China to spread the word of the Lord.

    It’s not your country never will be no matter how long you have lived there.

    Josh there is lots of injustices in China and guess what the Uyghurs are not the only ones getting the hard done by.

    They said they had a church I don’t know I never went there.

    I had enough common sense to stay away from the whole religious debate.

    Josh on May 8th, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Damo, I’m not talking about ME practicing MY faith, I’m talking about Xinjiang people practicing theirs.

    You claimed that people in Shihezi could “openly practice their faith” and I commented on the fact that to truly have an open faith one must be able to share it. Not westerners…locals.

    Finally Damo, please point me towards another current news item concerning religious struggles in Xinjiang and I’ll highlight it on this blog. Can’t find one? Then I’m going to highlight this one. I don’t care what the heck his ethnicity is. I don’t believe that Uyghur are the only ones “getting the hard done by” and I’ve never implied such a thought. This is a current news item and I think it’s worth talking about…like we’re doing now.

    damo on May 7th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    The Catholic Church has alot to answer for.

    I want to know why priests can sexually abuse small boys and virtually get away with it with the powers that be in the Catholic Church hiding there digressions in most cases.

    Gee I don’t know why the Chinese government wants to keep a tight rein on the Catholic church.

    What was that saying in the bible those with out sin?

    kahraman on May 7th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Yes, you are correct that the Catholic church has plenty of problems, but that is stil not topical. The catholic church does not have a monopolpy on political power in Xinjiang. Your argument is an ad hoc justification of policies that have little to nothing to do with the recent molestation scandals. Is it reasonable to simply overlook the categorical opposition to religion shown by all communist parties?

  5. Very interesting debate. There is also a Daoist temple on the outskirts of Urumqi perched high on a gravel stone hill and a Russian orthodox church in southern Urumqi.

    Plenty of Han Christians have been prosecuted over the years for their religious activities in Xinjiang. Some receiving hefty sentences. (In fact Xinjiang had long been a dumping ground for undesirable christian elements from gouli; and also home to many Shandongese evangelists who travelled out west before liberation as members to the “Back to Jerusalem” movement and ended up staying there. This movement is supposedly in renaissance:

    Orthodox Russian christians have also been under pressure over the years particularly in Urumqi. (

    Unless I missed something in the post, the severity of Alim Jan’s sentence has not been discussed in much depth, and from what I have read the former charges of leaking state secrets were dropped in the end.

    It also seems that these events occurred at a time building up to the Olympics when a national campaign was under way to sort out religious matters in the country; especially where foreigners were involved. Alim Jan was unfortunately caught up in that broad sweep and perhaps has been made into an example, and facing trial, was caught in the inflexible vicissitudes of the CCP legal system, based on the original charges.

    Could political sensitivities at the time, and the factor of Alim Jan’s ethnicity, have anything to do with his very long sentence? Personally, I am shocked by the length of Alim Jan’s sentence. To add to the debate, does any one have any further ideas on why that may be?

    There is also the assumption in above posts – which has a long history – that the Uyghur are not devout Muslims. This basically comes from a misunderstanding between what Islam is textually and how it is in fact lived ( that sis ‘popular Islam’). If Uyghur were devout from a textual point of view they would be then accused of being fundamentalists. Such assumptions are also drawn from ‘insightful’ observations based on more secularized Uyghur in Urumqi and the north as opposed to the seventy per cent of Uyghr who are agriculturalists and practitioners of ‘popular” Isalm in the southern Tarim Basin. Amen!


    Josh on May 8th, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Thanks for the great comment and links, Tez.

    You’re right about the peculiar timing of all this in light of the 2008 Olympics. I sure do hope he isn’t being made an example. That is a terribly long sentence.

    You make a good point about the difference between northern and southern Xinjiang but I still think there’s still a level of devout that doesn’t cross over into fundamentalism.


    tez on May 8th, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Thanks Josh,

    yea, the issue of devotion I think is overall a very personal one that cannot be easily categorized or measured and at times not easily recognized:

    “I never force myself to be devout except when I feel so inspired, and never compose hymns of prayers unless I feel within me real and true devotion.”

    Franz Schubert

  6. “when people generalize a people group”

    Then why do you keep mentioning Uyghur?

    What is a difference between a Uyghur Christian in Muslim Xinjiang to a Hui Christian in Muslim Xinjiang, or just a human Christian in Muslim Xinjiang?

    Uyghur is not human?

    Your special interests in Uyghur already “generalize a people group”.

    Ever use a mirror?


    tez on May 8th, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Frank just to mention “Uyghur” does not necessarily mean one is generalizing a (people?) group. Generalizing would mean stereotyping as in saying “All” Uyghur hate Dungan etc “All”? How can any one say that without speaking to “All” Uyghur. This is a very good example of generalization.


  7. I would suggest it is the Uyghurs with nationalistic sentiments in the government who pull the thread. There is a noticeably strong sentiment on the Uyghur forums against the Uyghur Christians. The Uyghurs who are usually quite cynical about the governmment often rally around the government to percecute the Christians.

    There are a similar case in Tibet. The Dalai Lama is quite openly against the interreligious conversion. The Tibetan government in exile often often hints that the Chinese govt should crack down the Christian missionaries in Lhasa.


    Akihiro on May 8th, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Oh no!

    “The Tibetan government in exile often hints that the Chinese government should crack down the Christian missionaries in Lhasa.”…???
    That’s shouldn’t happened…!!!
    There are a group of ethnic Tibetan Catholics among their Tibetan community there since many generation…
    Hope that my fellow Catholic there wouldn’t be affecting… since now the CCP are indeed protecting the Tibetan Catholic and their church there.


  8. The most extensive details of this incredibly unjust case are laid to bare in this December 23/09 summary “Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Persecuted for Religious Conversion” compiled with information it appears his lawyers gave of the secret trials posted on the China Aid website here: (shortened URL) [Editor’s note – this link is safe]

    Particularly revealing is the law he was initially cited of violating specifically outlawing Chinese Christians from spreading
    their faith among ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans:
    “He was also informed that he had violated the Xinjiang United Front Department’s ‘Notice Regarding the Strengthening of Supervision of Christianity and Catholicism’ which states in its Article 2, ‘It is not permitted to develop believers among Islamic and Tibetan Buddhist minorities. It is not permitted to develop believers in border regions’ (cf. document of the
    Municipal Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs).”

    In light of the PRC’s constitutional claim that its citizens “enjoy the freedom to believe or not to believe in religion, as well as the right to believe in any sect of their choice,” it’s obvious this right and respect is not to be extended to Uyghur citizens. It would seem keeping them within the confines of state-sanctioned Islam then (i.e. promoting the concept that all Uyghurs are Muslims), for the purposes of government control or touted “ethnic stability” is Beijing’s unstated official policy. Anyway, 15 years is extremely harsh and out of proportion to sentences handed down even to dissidents who challenge the government directly. They must really consider it worth their while to make an example of this man, but I hope for his sake at least, they’ll reconsider. It’ll be interesting to see how Uyghurs outside China promoting human rights for their people will support or not support Alimujiang as a fellow
    Uyghur though non-professing Muslim.


  9. Ellen, you will find on the UAA site many posts concerning Alim Jan. They have followed his case closely and kept up posts. Im sure they categorize his case as another anti- Uyghur human rights violation at least as far as it suits their greater purpose. They have no commentary on wether a Uyghur can be Christian or not.

    I think among Uyghur intellectuals there has long been an understanding that Christianity is part of the “Uyghur” heritage as Nestorianism was once widespread in Turkestan and Mongolia. Even during the Karakhanid Islamizing period Nestorian churches were allowed in Kashgar. Uyghur Historian Kahar Barat has written extensively on the “Uyghur” Nestorian past. It seems to have survived until the conversion of Tughluk Tiir Khan in the late 14th century, at which time christians were murdered in Almalik( Ghuldja).

    More recently Swedish evangelicals were active in Kashgar, Yarkand and Yengissar from 1898 to the late 1930s when they were expelled. The Uyghur believers were persecuted and many killed on several occasions, especially during the reign of the Khotan emirs. The last persecution seems to have originated as a symbiosis between a local Uyghur leader in Kashgar and the Chinese authorities in Urumqi (under Stalinist atheistic influence). Figures are unclear but perhaps up to 100 “Uyghur” believers were killed at the time by stuffing them together in one room and leaving them there…so collusion between the atheist state and local Muslim leaders has occurred before. Oe wonders if part of Alim Jan’s extremely disproportionate sentence you mention may have something to do with also appeasing local Muslim anti-christian feelings?


    katia on May 12th, 2010 at 6:51 am


    I think you may be right in thinking that harsh sentencing may have as its aim appeasing some of the local anti-christian feelings. But considering that many local Muslims have also (probably stronger) anti-atheists feelings I think that the PRC authorities have not achieved their aim. The recent remarks by new Communist Party boss, Zhang Chunxian, who “vowed a renewed crackdown on separatist elements” ( seem to confirm my view.


    tez on May 15th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Katia: three things strike me in this article you linked.

    1. Nothing will really change in terms of policy in XUAR; moreso the old policies will be intensified.

    2. The photographer’s story is a common one.

    3. The issue of the murder of Uyghur factory workers in Guangdong after being falsely accused of rape (and officially acknowledged as false by the government) has seemed to be swept under the carpet as the cause of the shocking riots in July.

  10. Personally as a Christian (Catholic) myself…
    Though I still respect their CCP government policies… I do indeed hope that China will be totally opening up of their Christianity in China one day. When even my Pope Benedict and the whole Catholic Christianity in the whole have being praying for.

    I understand that China is always very particular and sensitive about religion especially the Christianity because they are always a resemble of outside western power… And as I did mentioned before in my above comments that how China was ever terribly humiliated during the Qing Dynasty by the western power… and it seem to me that certain western powers didn’t really feel remorse at all ever since then about what they had done before… they are still always there to disturb China till now!!!

    I believe it’s a very a very painful and threatening emotional feeling whenever China see western power are there confronting them even now a days as that will forever resemble of the day when their land of Hong Kong was taken away and the burning down of their precious Summer Palace with all the treasures looting away by the westerners. And the western Christianity there in China, in the ways became the westerner’s scapegoats. China lost millions of innocent Chinese during that period of time under the hand of the westerners. And so when will the west stop their sales of those China’s stolen treasures which are still now on going…???

    So personally I do understand China now a days for their fear of the Christianity as what had terribly happened to them before.
    But deep in my heart, I still hope that… this will not be an excuse for them for not totally opening up of their Christianity in China.
    And I also hope that everyone will still take what I had written in my above comments about the goodness and the good testimonies of some Chinese Christian in account.
    CCP may not be that evil as anyone will think.

    Below is ONLY my others “explanation” or “assumption” about this Alimjan Yimit’s case:

    I am curious on whether is there any of the ethnic Uyghur policemen, Uyghur judge council or Uyghur governor involves in this Alimjan Yimit’s case… ?
    As we know that certain Muslims are terribly very against Christianity and against any of their fellow Muslims who are converted into others religion.
    As we also know that certain Muslim communities do kill or torture their fellow Muslims for if they are converted to other faith. And even some foreigner missionaries was killed or tortured by certain Muslim communities in their land before…!
    So regarding the hash sentence given to Alimjan Yimit maybe the work done by certain Uyghur lawmaker in Xinjiang due to their dislike on him for being a Uyghur Muslim.

    Another matter, which I need to know is, whether which Christianity group does Alimjan Yimit below to in Xinjiang? Is he a Catholic, Protestant or… any others?
    Because sadly and quite embarrassing for me to mention is that though many may have just a general idea about “Christian”… but as in our present new generation now, many so-call “Christian group” may not be following exactly the way of a real Christian. Some of them believe in certain extreme idea of faith… and some Christian believe in certain ways which will cause harm to a society… and some maybe only a disguise of certain political group into as Christian… and some preaches suicide for their faith, which is very dangerous.

    Anyway ultimately, I do feel that the sentence given for Alimjan Yimit is hash…
    If he is really not guilty of any other crimes… hope he can be release soon.



    tez on May 8th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Akihiro I think the question about the ethnic make up of the court officials is a good one: I think it is mentioned somewhere in the articles written about his case, but couldn’t find it off hand.

    Came across these links this afternoon, they may interest you as a you preent yourself as a devout RC:;jsessionid=D7B051C06C021110194C0A7DC32735BC.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=5879500


    Akihiro on May 8th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you tez for your information

  11. Very sorry!
    My apologize for some writing error in my above comment that I just written.
    Which I wrote:

    So regarding the hash sentence given to Alimjan Yimit maybe the work done by certain Uyghur lawmaker in Xinjiang due to their dislike on him for being a Uyghur Muslim.

    … which actually suppose to be:

    So regarding the hash sentence given to Alimjan Yimit maybe the work done by certain Uyghur lawmaker in Xinjiang due to their dislike on him for being a Uyghur “Christian”.

    And just to add something on… is that:
    I believe some of the Uyghur Muslims will be extremely angry and feel offended for Alimjan Yimit spreading the Christian faith among his Muslim community there. So that’s what really happened to him in the end.

    This whole happening maybe just like how our Lord Jesus Christ who was force to be crucified on the cross by the Roman governor after being pressured by the Jewish people for their dislike on Jesus…

    Anyway that’s only my personally thinking about the whole case.


  12. Just another sharing regarding about our Christianity that may related to Alimjan Yimit’s case.

    A what I do understand that most of the Protestant Christianity (Which are the non-Catholic Christianity) believe that since Jesus is only the way to Heaven… so for the rest of the other faiths believers and even the non-religious people will be condemn to Hell.

    This is also one of our main different ways of believing between we the Catholic Christian and the others non-Catholic Christian.

    Beside their such a way of believing, some of these non-Catholic (Protestant Christian) believe that since our Jesus is the only God… other “God” which others worship in others religions are actually all demons… which mean to some of these Protestant Christian, the rest of the religious believers are actually “demon worshipper”…

    I hope that anyone here who is belonging to others religions won’t be that offended, as these are only the ways some of the Protestant Christian believe…

    As in my country… some Protestant Christian is always being active for evangelizing (spreading their faith) in the public area and door-to-door visit. And most of them are being very aggressive and pushy as to them, anyone who are not a Christian will be condemn to hell. But they are all really out of good will that they wanted to “save” as much people as they can.
    So, there are even some of them will use aggressive and arrogant ways like condemning other gods or warning of hell to other people directly, if they are not converted into Christian.
    Though personally I understand that they are just being out of good will… but to me, that must not be the ways in spreading our own religion…

    So in conclusion… since we are all not directly involve in this particular Alimjan Yimit’s case… none of us will really know that how actually did Alimjan Yimit spread his Christian faith to other Uyghur Muslim?
    So what will we all think if Alimjan Yimit really did spread his Christian faith in the same aggressive and arrogant ways like how I just mentioned above like those Protestant Christian?
    I am sure that many Uyghur Muslim will get very offended and angry.

    So in the end… Alimjan Yimit may end up, as what he is presently now, when since I am also curious on whether are their any ethnic Uyghur court official, Uyghur governor or Uyghur policemen that did involves and deal with his case…

    If not, it maybe also as what I did mentioned above of what happened to our Lord Jesus Christ and how He was force to be crucified on the cross by the Roman governor after being pressured by the Jewish people for their dislike on Jesus…


  13. what I do understand that most of the Protestant Christianity (Which are the non-Catholic Christianity) believe that since Jesus is only the way to Heaven… so for the rest of the other faiths believers and even the non-religious people will be condemn to Hell.

    All religions believe that “non-believers” may go to hell as their religion is the only “true” one. Even some political systems arrogantly believe that all other political systems are incorrect and will go to hell (or to the “dustbin of history”) like, for example, the communists. However, majority of Jews believe that everyone will have a share in “the world to come”. Christians (catholics and majority of protestants) believe that non-believers may go to purgatory and then (perhaps) to heaven and Islam says that all non-believers will definitely go to hell.

    Beside their such a way of believing, some of these non-Catholic (Protestant Christian) believe that since our Jesus is the only God… other “God” which others worship in others religions are actually all demons… which mean to some of these Protestant Christian, the rest of the religious believers are actually “demon worshipper”…

    It is strange that you mentioned small splinter group from the majority of Christians (protestants and catholics) Majority of protestants believe in Trinity or in a God as singular spirit who manifests himself in many different ways, including as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (pentacostalism).

    I really think you should upgrade your knowledge of Christian religion – both catholic and protestant. Perhaps you should start by reading Wikipedia ;-)


    Akihiro on May 10th, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Hi katia again

    I am a Christian (Catholic), I have the knowledge of my own religion… thanks, so you need not tell me what to do… I have been also giving Catechism lesson for the youth Catholic also in where I stay and I have been teaching my children also.
    As for the protestant… since they have thousands of different denominations in this world, I will only base on my knowledge from most of the certain Protestant Christian that I know…

    Frankly say to you katia… throughout some of these posts from you and some of it which I interact with you… to me you are a very young guy with full of passion (anti-China) and aggressiveness of arguing.

    I can only say that you just argue simply for the sake of arguing…
    Some of your arguing may have a little bit of sense but a lot of them are just simply wanted to “win”… or be the “winner”.
    Just like when you are referring to certain western historian as “idiot”…

    Anyway thanks again for your comments as I always thanks you.
    And frankly say I don’t think I am really that interested in interacting with you… seem like it will be a bit childish to me in arguing with any issue with you.

    Thank you for your time with me also.

    God bless!


    Akihiro on May 10th, 2010 at 11:17 am


    Ha…! sorry that I miss out something is that… please don’t base any knowlegde seriouly with only informations from Wikipedia…


    katia on May 12th, 2010 at 7:25 am


    I understand that you say that you are a a catholic. If you say so, than perhaps you are. I can not say yea or nay. However I can say that your knowledge of religions (catholic or otherwise) needs some upgrading.

    My name, as you probably noticed, is definitely not a male name. However, I understand that in Asia male persons have more – shall we say – “weight” then a female one. So it decided that I take your change of my gender as a compliment.

    I do agree with you that Wikipedia is not a best source of knowledge, but, akihiro-chan, better one which is not the best than a wrong one or none at all.

    I also agree with you that calling somebody an “idiot” is impolite and childish, however I would like to direct your attention to the difference in meaning between an “idiot” and a “useful idiot”. The former is simply impolite world, the later is a description of a certain class of a persons popularized by the Lenin himself.

    Finally, if you are not interested with “interaction” with my unworthy self, it is OK. I understand. Just don’t answer. ;-)

  14. There is a (new?) website regarding this case called It is affiliated with Chinaaid, a Christian activist group aimed a documenting religious persecution in China. (their stance is no mystery). The site has a new video that includes brief interviews with Yimit’s mother and wife. (it also has some chinese background articles)


    tez on May 10th, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Thanks for that link Kahraman. I found this one viz yours and it gives a good idea of what has been going on in Xinjiang the last 5 years in regard topic:


    joyce on May 10th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    How annoying foreign activists in China are, especially the religious one. Who do they think they are? They think that they should decide what Chinese can do. If there was no spying involved, I am sure his lawyers will win the case. Maybe, the guy was just back-stabbed by his fellow Muslim Uyghur.


    kahraman on May 11th, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Many foreign activists in China are rather annoying to be sure, but only the people of China can ultimately decide what they themselves believe. Westerners can’t ever have this power, so there’s no need to worry. Chinese citizens are not powerless children.

    You have tremendous faith in the Chinese government….I live in a raucous democracy and have a very difficult time believing most politicians even with an open media, open trials etc.

    tez on May 11th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Maybe Joyce but it seems far more complex than that.

    damo on May 11th, 2010 at 4:02 pm


    No it is not that complex it is China it ain’t america.

    Joyce got it right.

    If you have been involved with China for many years not just a mere 3 years you would have a inkling how China works.

    tez on May 11th, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Damo. I do have an inkling how China works but I have no idea what you are on about considering all the factors impinging on Alim Jan’s case. Are you being simplistic? BTW, I have never been to America, and was probably walking around China before you were born, if that is where you are from. Thanx for enlightening us anyway on why Alim jan gets 15 years, those Uyghurs did it!

    joyce on May 11th, 2010 at 11:30 pm


    It is not that I have tremendous faith in the government. I am a realist and I can appreciate the fact that it is quite a daunting task to rule China.

    I do not see the relationship between the government and the people are as simple as the oppressor and the oppressed, like western liberals. Even the emperor had to try to help when there was a famine because it could lead to rebellions and the fall of the empire. The government has to adapt or die, just like any other living entity.

    It is unfair to compare China to America. The land is overpopulated, considering that China only has 7% of the fresh water in the world and less than half of American fertile land. Even America is far from paradise itself. The ghettos in inner cities are poor and deadly dangerous. Yes, America does not execute like China, but some states have to release inmates earlier because they ran out of money. Some times, I feel the criminals have more rights than the victims here. In that sense, I never hope that China becomes America. You have the poor and the uninsured, but where is the money to really reform.

    It is fair to compare China to India. They are both ancient civilizations. If you go back 60 yrs, they were both very poor and densely populated. Some social reforms are hindered more or less by the negative but deeply rooted aspects of the old cultures. India is democracy, but the reality on the ground proves that the “evil” communist PRC has been doing better. The “human right” and “freedom” sound really hollow when there are half billion people there suffering slow starvation and lack of shelters. Indian people are easier to rule because they are more religious and more fatalistic.

    Anyway, China had enough “revolutions” in last century. In each “revolution”, there were millions, if not tens of millions, DEAD. No more “revolution” please. Society has to have large middle class to be stable and progressive. China has changed dramatically in last three decades. Even Mao’s era was not all black. Most peasants could read because of public education and the high literal rate made the reform of last thirty years possible. I look at the larger picture, it is grey, not black or white.

    joyce on May 12th, 2010 at 12:21 am


    I don’t really know what is going on there. As a proud atheist, I consider ChinaAid as religious extremists. If there is a fight between the government and the religion, I am on the side of the government.

    I have relatives going to church in China. It is legal to study the bible, no doubt about that. Why go underground? It might be a cover to organize all kinds of illegal activities. Three were executed for the possible connection to the murders of 20 people. It was disturbing that ChinaAid complained that they were Christians, but not mentioned during the trial.

    I hate any foreigners aggressively preaching in China. It is sad that my people are being fed with the nonsense of virgin birth and the second coming of Jesus.

    For this case, the ethnic card has been played, but it seemed to be part of “crackdown” on underground “religions”. Religions registered or not, should be controlled. Religions have not united different people, but divided the same people to kill each other. Riots between Hindu and Muslim make the July riot in Xinjiang a child play.

    kahraman on May 12th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    @joyce I stand by my claim regarding suspicion of the Chinese government motives in this case. The government has not provided any facts that allow for an objective judgement(unless you really believe that talking to foreign journalists is worth 15 years in prison. I truly hope not). Call me old fashioned, but until I see hard facts I have a strong reason for doubt.

    My point in bringing up politicians is not to compare China and the west (that is another topic for another time), but rather to voice my skepticism of politicians generally. And whether they are called cadres, secretaries, senators etc. they are all politicians. China is not an enchanted land beyong politicking…

    tez on May 12th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    @ Kahraman, since this interesting discussion thread commenced I have done some reading and Alim Jan’s crime was not speaking to foreign journalists but rather to the foreign Christian he was involved in Kashgar.

    So the “state secrets” he passed on were: 1. the fact he had been interrogated, and 2. the names of others involved, who were also interrogated.

    That is, after interrogation he was endangering state security by telling the foreigner that he too was under suspicion as well as who else (obviously known to the foreigner) had also been interrogated by authorities in relation to their investigation. Whew!

    kahraman on May 13th, 2010 at 4:46 am

    @tez Thank you. I stand corrected. If this is truly considered a ‘state secret’ or a threat to national security, the government indirectly presents itself as quite frail or paranoid. It doesn’t seem they considered this angle.

  15. To make it political correct. I re-word.

    If Uyghur were Muslim, MANY of them would miss their right hand.

    MANY Uyghur hates Dongan muslim.

    Talk to a few Dongan muslim in XJ, you will know.

    Speak of American’s own dirty laundry, being muslim in America today who cannot speak English is no better than being Uyghur in China, who cannot speak Chinese.


    kahraman on May 11th, 2010 at 12:55 am

    You are still not politically, logically or factually correct. However, you have progressed from being a vile racist to being merely extremely prejudiced. On this I congratulate you….

    How does your religion predetermine the language you speak?


    tez on May 11th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    @kahraman lol

    tez on May 11th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Frank the animosity between Dungan and Uyghur goes back to the Qing dynasty and the fact from thereon Dungan troops were used against the ancestors of the modern Uyghur as mercenaries. In the 1930s various Tungan armies and Tungan Warlords decimated the oases of the Tarim basin in an extremly cruel and exploitive manner. This has not helped attitudes over time. Hui are also distrusted because they are Chinese speaking and are often looked upon as agents of Han whether that is true or not.

    On the other hand historically there are links between the Hui areas of Gansu and Qinghai and the Uyghur oases through the commonality of the sufi brotherhoods whose founders such as the Appak Khoja had many Hui (Dungan) disciples. Towns in southern Xinjiang still have Hui communities ( Yarkan and Khotan for example) which date from the 1930s and are descendants of the Hui troops left behind at that period. In Ghulja there are also many Hui and Salar. You never hear about trouble between them and Uyghur.

    As far as animosity goes and in regard your “Many” (how many have you asked?) SOME Hui seem to distrust and dislike the Uyghur as much as the latter do the Hui – it is mutual. Overall, prejudice and racism are human traits across the world. So that it occurs between these two groups, especially with their interactive history in mind, shouldnt be surprizing nor is it a reason to further stigmatize the Uyghur.

  16. Stories like this make it really hard for me to talk to people abroad openly. I’m always scared I’ll write a blog post or something and someone’s life, like Alimjan Yimit’s, will get ruined. Western media can be insensitive sometimes too though, but the situation is unacceptable.


    joyce on May 13th, 2010 at 12:11 am

    All nations and all people are suspicious about the true intention of foreigners.

    A Uyghur Swedish (?) was arrested for spying. He was accused of passing info to Chinese government about Uyghur communities. I can argue what “secret” Uyghur communities could have. Swedish government is doing exactly the same as Chinese government.


    kahraman on May 13th, 2010 at 5:18 am

    But if all nations are inherently suspicious of foreigners, why did Sweden allow Uyghur communities to settle there in the first place?

    The man in question was convicted of a specific charge and evidence was presented in the form of phone taps and witnesses. Unfortunately, this same clarity cannot be said for Yimit’s case. There is no evidence the foreigner here was a spy or wouldn’t we hear something about that too? Wouldn’t China protest vocally?

    tez on May 13th, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Yes Joyce thats a good point. Kahraman’ point is also quite valid; there is no “spying” involved in the Alim Jan case. It was a fabricated charge.

    If Uyghurs can be bought overseas to spy on their own communities wouldn’t this enforce Uyghur suspicion of China? How far back does this suspicion go and why does it exist is also a good question?

    You infer that the Alim Jan case possibly had something to do with “secret” organizations, and that is perhaps getting close to the problem itself: suspicion. Alim Jan was fluent in Chinese and sought to reconcile the Uyghur with the Han: he was a loyal citizen of China. His religion aside, Alim Jan’s crime and punishment is overall the result of fear and suspicion: a good man is punished and imprisoned for the best part of his life for displaying the virtues China is trying and hoping all Uyghur will eventually have toward the nation. Is there any “hope” to rise above mutual suspicion when this can happen?

    joyce on May 13th, 2010 at 11:17 pm


    My point is that there are no real secrets about Uyghur community in Sweden. The guy probably just passed general info of what was going on and it was just like Alim Jan who told a foreigner what happened.

    If Swedish Uyghur community were working on instigating violence in China (secretly), and Swedish government should punish Uyghur plotting violence, not someone informing China, or China should bomb Sweden like what America did to Afghan.

    kahraman on May 14th, 2010 at 12:59 am

    The Uyghur accused in Sweden surreptitiously passed along information to a government intelligence agent. Yimit had a conversation with a foreigner about facts that were likely known. These situations are not equivalent.

    And I don’t believe there is any evidence of Uyghurs in Sweden plotting violence in China. They may engage in protests, meetings, etc. that the Chinese government doesn’t like, but if there was clear evidence of plotting violence, I doubt that would be acceptable to Sweden.

    joyce on May 14th, 2010 at 1:09 am


    Of course, I agree that the government has done a lot of wrongs and are still doing a lot of wrongs.

    For this Alim Jan case, it is not very helpful to play ethnic card. From ChinaAid web, it seems widespread crackdown on underground religions. Why go underground if it is legal to practice? I agree that 15 years are not justified if it was just underground religion. Of course, I am very sympathetic to his family.

    All the foreigners should stop behaving holier-than-you. You got people into troubles and you could not help much in the powerful state. People have to work things out within the system. The solution is not to appeal to the suspicious outside entity, instead get public support inside. The problem is that underground Christians probably do not have much public appeal or even Uyghur appeal.

    I can remember one case. A woman stabbed a drunken official forcing on her. Good for her, but she was convicted of murder. Then she was released by the public outcry. It seems that talking to a foreigner got Alim Jan into a big trouble. But hopefully, his lawyer will try hard to get him out.

    There are as many Korean Chinese as Uyghur in China. They are doing the best as a group, better than “Han”(whatever it means to you). “Han chauvinism” is over exaggerated and people identify themselves by region more often than ethnicity.

    Suspicions between “Han” and Uyghur are complex and you can’t all blame on “Han”. Uyghur did bomb buses even in Beijing. Uyghur rioted, small and big; steal more often because of the government’s “encouragement”.

    I believe that Uyghur hate Han more than the other way. Killing children, women and elders in street, because they might be Han, can make the most progressive Han cringe. Uyghur activists are quite extreme too. The guy arrested in Beijing even blamed high HIV infections of Uyghur on discriminations.

    I sense that Uyghur have strong sentiment of entitlement, but Qing or PRC never treat them like black slaves. They seem to resist learning Mandarin or demand jobs guaranteed. But communism was tried by all kinds of people and failed. Even they don’t want to learn Mandarin; at least state owned businesses should be able to accommodate them. But private business will be another matter, especially with the poisonous relationship between Uyghur and Han.

    joyce on May 14th, 2010 at 3:33 am


    “They may engage in protests, meetings, etc. that the Chinese government doesn’t like,…”

    But are those really secrets? Who did he harm? He was born to Uyghur father and Hui mother and grew up in Tianjin (?). He doesn’t speak much Uyghur and I doubt that he passed anything that was not already known. To me, he is a victim of anti-China Sweden.

    The foreigner Yimit talked to might be an agent too. I am sure some foreigners in China are agents, or paid by the organizations funded by foreign governments.

    kahraman on May 14th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Certainly public protests, meetings etc. are not secrets but I think he was charged with divulging more personal information about travel, health and other activities of WUC members. I actually tried to find trial documents, or a more in depth report on the case but could not. (maybe its all in Swedish). I do doubt that a Chinese intelligence agent would be able to casually stroll into a Uyghur activist group and start asking questions. I don’t think Sweden is anti-China… I highly doubt they would subordinate their entire national interest for a 100 uyghurs. I’m sure swedes really love how packed chinese Ikeas are. :)

    Actually China could have prosecuted the foreigner in the Yimit case, but they simply revoked his residence permit and deported him. If he was truly suspicious more would have been done.

    tez on May 14th, 2010 at 8:59 am

    @ Joyce, you have a confused attitude to the Alim Jan case. On one hand you infer it all has to do with spying and then again say he just got in trouble for talking to a foreigner; but you really believe the issue is all about spying it seems. Above you can see the rationale behind the spying charges: he told a foreigner what had happened to him; and that also affected the foreigner. That is normal. If you had been interrogated by the police and your friends or family were involved and also under suspicion Im sure you would do the same, naturally.


    “My point is that there are no real secrets about Uyghur community in Sweden. The guy probably just passed general info of what was going on and it was just like Alim Jan who told a foreigner what happened.”

    Obviously not. As Kahraman pointed out, this was an intelligence agent. If the information was general, he wouldn’t be needed – he was spying for a foreign government on a community of Swedish citizens albeit Uyghur Swedish citizens. This is not an example of anti-China attitudes from the Swedes. They have to protect the integrity of their community. If the Uyghur were up to no good, that would be the job of the Swedish government to sort out. Once again here is the inference from you that Uyghur are terrorists, which is the result of a massive propaganda campaign aimed against the Uyghur you seem to have accepted.

    “The foreigner Yimit talked to might be an agent too. I am sure some foreigners in China are agents, or paid by the organizations funded by foreign governments.”

    There is no evidence of this; and your: “might be” is a big stretch of the imagination and an example of unfounded suspicion. As that Kahraman also said in an earlier post if this would have been the case China definitely would have made more of it. We would have heard of it. So your suspicion in this case is just that. Im sure the foreigner was thoroughly investigated before all this happened and would have his file at the PSB and An quan Ting as all foreigners who live in China do. They knew way before what he was about and his connections. Thats why there is no such charge against him: it isnt so.

    “Who did he harm? He was born to Uyghur father and Hui mother and grew up in Tianjin (?). He doesn’t speak much Uyghur and I doubt that he passed anything that was not already known. To me, he is a victim of anti-China Sweden.”

    As I said, if what he passed on was already known; what was he paid to do? Pass on Double information? Who did he harm? We dont know. Possibly relatives of Swedish Uyghur back in Xinjiang. Maybe they sent them a newspaper clipping or something and have been charged with passing on state secrets. People do dissappear without trial in China for lengthy periods. You dont know but thats not to say his spying was harmless.

    The reason that Chinese Christians go underground is that the state sponsored church is politicized and controlled. They wish to express their religious beliefs in the way they see fit without government strictures. As you know there are tens of millions of these believers in China. That says a lot for the state run Church.

    I dont see foreigner’s expressing their opinion as an example of being Holier than Thou: how do you come up with that? You seem to have entrenched anti-foreigner feelings that color everything you say; you feel the world is out to get China.

    And do you really think there will be any internal outcry in China over Alim Jan’s case? If Uyghur for example did do that, wouldn’t they also be punished by your “powerful state”? I am sure however there could be many Han who may want to take this unjust ruling against Alim up on the internal internet as was the case of the girl stabbing that official; but will they? Speaking out for Alim Jan is necessary at this time: it is no plot or example of being anti China. People care about him as an individual and the injustice he has received thats all. To continually politicize his case as you do blurrs seeing it simply as the case of an individual, like you or me.

    joyce on May 14th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I have a close relative going to church in China. I am not buying that it is politicized and not a lot of people care about politics anyway.

    It is not uncommon for secular governments to control religions. In America, wearing cross can be an issue in some situation. France banned Burka. Even Bible says that you should obey the law of the land. Who decided religions should be above Chinese laws? All sovereign states have all the rights to mandate how religions can be practiced. Considering the unholy history of religions and the unholy priests now, it is perfectly fine to ban them all.

    Although the foreigner Yimit talked to was not charged, we can not conclude that he is definitely not a spy. Maybe, he is not worth blowing others’ covers.

    The case in Sweden is definitely similar.

    kahraman on May 14th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Religion in China is indeed very politicized. That is clear. Why do you think there are ‘patriotic’ churches instead of simply ‘churches’. You can’t be that naive.

    No one said religion is above Chinese law. In fact, I think most would argue that what the Chinese government does in many cases is against the spirit and letter of the laws they themselves promulgated. Obviously no government should allow child sacrifices or crimes in the name of religion. That was never suggested though. But it starts to get controversial when you don’t allow children to learn about their religious tradition or don’t allow government workers to pray. These things are simply not criminal or threatening to anyone in themselves. You simply seemed deeply biased against all religions as though basic metaphysical questions have all been answered by your particular blend of atheism-secularism-communism. I for one, am skeptical of your sweeping generalizations.

    Before you start going off on tangents about spys and blowing cover, I suggest you familiarize yourself with Occam’s razor…..

    tez on May 14th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks Joyce. re: “Even Bible says that you should obey the law of the land.”

    Yes i believe St Paul said that and that has always worried me especially when we see how western governments have used religion to control the unthinking and subservient. Look at Bush’s unholy alliance of Church and militarist state as a recent example. The bible is also full of instances where Christians were persecuted and even killed for refusing to obey the state rather than obey God. I think an example is St Peter. I dont have a bible but have read it. Wasnt St Paul who made the above statement about obeying the state also martyred by the state when it came down to it in the end. He would not bow down to Caesar. It seems the political state in nay form collectively known as the beast is the enemy of the universal church throughout time in biblical prophetic imagery of Revelation.

    re: “Who decided religions should be above Chinese laws? ”

    Definitely not foreigners. Chinese Christians choose this themselves and from what I can glean are also good obedient subjects as a rule. When they have to choose between the dictates of the state and their belief many choose allegiance to the God of their belief which is greater than the state and also suffer for this with imprisonment and also death. That is their moral choice beyond the dictates of the state and something the state cannot control. I think this is the biggest fear of the their powerlesness to control the hearts of men and women when it comes to religion: christian, buddhist, muslim, whatever.

    I wont respond to your last statements as you obviously do not receive what I previously wrote – like the Chinese christians who choose to defy the strictures of the state, that is your choice and your belief.

  17. @kahraman,

    Let’s get real. Religions were created by men with political agendas and have been utilized as such ever since.

    My “bias” against religions is based on the bloody facts. Laws are open for interpretation, just like the Bible or whatever. It makes sense to protect children from brainwash by the books written thousands of years ago. Underground religions can be the cover for all kinds of criminal activities.

    “…as though basic metaphysical questions have all been answered by your particular blend of atheism-secularism-communism.”

    Religions did not get them right for sure. It would be closer if “communism” is replaced by feminism. The creators of religions were actually progressive for their times, but the sexism men have been letting them down, such as making Jesus’ wife a prostitute. Women have not been good enough to be priests, but pedophilia men have been too good to let go. Religions have been the problems, not the solutions.

    Spying is as old as human and it can be very shady and very ugly. But both men were excessively punished for their probably inconsequential conducts


  18. Joyce. I found this today so return to our man in Sweden:

    It seems he himslef was a political refugee seeking sanctuary from your “powerful state.” One wonders what type of blackmail was imposed upon him to ensure he spied for the Chinese government if he was in fact fleeing their persecution? What was he threatened with or his family perhaps? Or was he just a fake refugee the entire time and a spy himself all along?

    This period was also the time when Sweden was seriously thinking about accepting the Guanatanamao Bay Uyghurs who no body else would accept. Were the secrets he was passing on associated with that issue which so concerned China at the time?.

    There really is no comparison with the Alim Jan case and the Uyghur spook in Sweden. He was either bought out of fear for himself or family or was a spy all along sent to Sweden for that purpose. Whatever he is not innocent of his crime as is Alim Jan.

    Your reasonings and comparisons are quite skewed; and I love your Dan Brownesque allusions to Mary Magdalene above: I forgot that Dan had the true story!


    joyce on May 16th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Political refugees are often economic refugees. Chinese going abroad after the “open door policy” were often well educated in China and they were hardly the enemy of the government, otherwise they could not leave. Some of them wanted to stay in wealthier western countries and “political refugee” was the only way some time.

    The Uyghur Swedish might just be interested in a bit more income. His sister in China wish to live with him in Sweden, he did like the idea and I doubt that his relatives in China are more oppressed than other Chinese.

    Jesus was just a Jewish man. His followers were definitely liars and they dehumanized him to be “son of God”. I personally will never understand that anyone with family could risk going to jail for a Jew who died long ago.


  19. Yes, Joyce yes but you totally avoid the main point: the Uyghur man in Sweden was an informant for the Chinese state – Alim Jan was not an informant. Thats what this discussion is about; its not a forum for your atheist beliefs.

    I dont care for the religion of Jewish “Men” either even though I am one.

    However, please spare us your Dan Brown derived populist fantasies.


  20. My point is that it is rational for the government to control religions and it is a public safety issue. I do not buy the crap that the “holy” religions should be above the Chinese laws.

    Yimit was warned about illegal underground religion. Then he talked to a foreigner who was expelled for a reason.

    Uyghur Swedish does not even speak much Uyghur and whatever he passed to Chinese were not real secrets. I am still waiting to see how much he was paid and whether he knew that the Chinese was a spy.

    There are some relatively new discoveries of the scripts written in Jesus time. Women played much more important roles in the organization and finance, but were reduced to insignificance later by sexism men. All regions are still very sexism institutions now. It is the fact, not fantasy


  21. I personally think there are a few reasons why the current (also the future ones, democratic or not) will not embrace the same notion of “religious freedom” as in the West:
    1. Historical events/lessons:
    a. Tai Ping Tian Guo movement near the end of the Qing dynasty. It was a Christianity fueled peasant movement that brought the nation to the edge of clasp and made tremendous damage.
    b. Northwest Hui Rebellion at the end of Tai Ping Tian Guo movement. Hui Muslim in northwest China rebelled and tried to establish an Islam Kingdom by physically eradicating non-muslin Chinese. Millions of non-muslin Chinese were butchered and millions hui muslin also massacred later in the revenge killing by Qing armies.

    2. Chinese are not religious, at least not in the same sense of the Christianity or Islam. Traditional Chinese culture believes in divine forces but never had high levels of organized religion. History has proven that neither Chrstians nor Muslims willing to be governed by “infidels”.

    3. CCP is atheist.


  22. i wish eveyone can tell the truth about that country today under the chinese occupation.
    it is an islamic state in its history, and the people still holding to their faith very strongly and that is great. happy people they just need to be left alone.i ask foreigners to leave these people alone and i mean those who are preaching christianty, its only causing them more misery.too much involvement from china and western ideology which is destroying their beautiful culture, i got married to an uyghur turk woman from kashgar, she is so beautiful in heart and mind. she told me a lot about the treatment towards them from the chinese occuopiers, very educated and have a law degree but without a chance of getting a job in there. one uyghur will get a job in 100 people that apply, i mean 99 chinese get it but only 1 uyghur, thats very sad, i studied the history of this country, unfortunatly they were forbidden from their faith to practice it, and its so sad that foreign ideas like christians want to exploit these beautiful natured people, please leave them alone and they will find their way to liberate their country, you can help by providing aid like money and health equipments for home use, thanks to every person who is able help in that matter, they dont need exploitation, they have their islamic faith, they just need help


  23. The website about persecuted Christians is called Open Doors – It is an international organizations. There are some stories about persecuted Christians worldwide and the problems they face. But I wonder how much they can do for persecuted Christians.

    What you believe is a personal choice, nobody should have any say about it. Many refugees, including the Uyghurs, they get their asylum because of the problems they face “regarding religious freedom,” for being a member of a certain social, political or ethnic group. Therefore if these Uyghurs have anything to say against other Uyghurs who believe in other religions, such as Christianity, actually they violate the basic rules that granted them asylum. However we don’t talk about that. Right? We need to be politically right by the academia, politics, or whatever it is.

    The ancestors of the Uyghurs believed in Shamanism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, and Islam. Then why modern day Uyghurs do not believe in Shamanism, or Zoroastrianism, or Buddhism that their ancestors believed in? Why did their ancestors chose to change their belief during different times? Did the Chinese government forced them then? There are also many Chinese Christians overseas and in China, but do they get persecuted by their fellow Chinese people? Why?


  24. Islamisation of uighurs was the policy of China. Uighurs are totally different than mainstream muslims. Often muslim world doesnt consider them muslims. First of all Uighurs are very much into their ancient faith Shaminism.

    Islam is highly privileged in by terrorist chinese government. The Chinese muslims have been privileged many ways under communist regime. Since shariah law very close to china’s regime like if you dont agree with i will kill you kind.

    Uighurs are first community in central asia who adopted Christianity. In fact Almost all Uighurs have special interest on christianity. Since china is officially antichrist nation being christian is extremely risky. Many uighurs practice christianity discreetly.

    Also another reason why china wont let uigurs to be christian, The world has great hatred against to muslims which is very much ok when we see terrorist nations like pakistan and saudi arabia. However framing uigurs as muslims is very unfortunate and deceptive. However morons wont understand the truth


    Robert Wood on July 15th, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    GospelGo distributes thousands of Uyghur Bibles in Xinjiang. We also recount the history of the first church in Kashgar.


  25. I happened on your article from 2010 about Alimjan Jimit. I have been praying for him, his family and all those over whom he has had influence since 2010 when I first heard of his story. Thank you for defending him so eloquently. It grieves me when I read people saying things about Alimjan based upon a preconceived view of Chinese politics, such as ‘there must be more to the story…China wouldn’t…etc., etc.,’ The truth is that they presented no evidence against Alimjan to substantiate their claims. This is religious persecution, pure and simple. I hope you are well brother. Mike