In its zeal to “maintain stability” in the Muslim majority province, the authorities have plunged to ridiculous depths and are effectively crippling business owners.
Bitter Winter has previously reported extensively about how the authorities in Xinjiang follow the principle of “maintaining stability,” even if it means sacrificing economic development. Muslim shop owners are not allowed to keep “halal” items, restaurants have to ensure their knives are QR coded and tied to chains, and Han Chinese have to adhere by the “ten-household joint defense” program.
These policies have been in place for months, and we now have more details of the ridiculous lengths the CCP authorities go to implement them.
For instance, to ensure there are no “halal” items on shelves, the authorities have put up notices in all major shopping malls and supermarkets. While the customers generally miss the discretely placed notifications, the salespeople are expected to refer to these and determine if items are allowed to be sold.
Ms. Zhang Lan, a daily use products supplier based in Korla city, is in a fix due to this policy. After it was enforced, she had been recalling items for three months but had no idea what to do with them. The manufacturers refuse to take them back since they are not defective or expired. In such a case, it is the supplier who ends up bearing the losses.
She said, “Xinjiang is a remote place, and it is the suppliers who have to pay the back-and-forth shipping fees. The Communist Party claims to ‘serve the people.’ Is this how they ‘serve’ us?”
Another shop owner, Ms. Tian, revealed that sometimes personnel from the Administration Office of Industry and Commerce show up for shop inspections too. “Any time they find an item that could have even the remotest connection to Islam, they take it away,” she said.
A shop owner’s business in Karamay was destroyed because of a pair of earrings. In April, two law enforcement officers showed up at his establishment for inspection. They soon discovered a pair of earrings in the shape of a five-pointed star and a crescent moon. They called it a “halal generalization” product and confiscated the earrings. The shop owner said, “The price of these earrings was over 100 RMB (about 14 USD). Besides, it’s just an ornament. How can it be associated with a terrorist organization?”
The officers, however, simply rebuked him and posted a “business closed” notice on his shop’s door.
In Shihezi city, restaurant and food store owners are being harassed for not having QR codes on their kitchen knives or keeping them not tied to chains. In September, an ethnic Hui store was sealed off because one of his knives did not have the code. The owner suffered losses of 5,000 RMB (over 700 USD) and could not even utter a single complaint because he was afraid of being put in a “study class,”
A month later, a butcher shop owner was fined 2,000 RMB (nearly 300 USD) for not having one of his knives chained and secured with a QR code. He was also detained for 15 days.
A local Hui proprietor said, “With the knife fastened to a chain, it is really inconvenient to use, but we have no choice. If we’re not careful, we will be severely punished. We’re baffled and disoriented by the current policy.”
Another butcher revealed how he was fined 200 RMB (almost 29 USD) because he had to leave his shop in a hurry and forgot to lock up his knife. This is the amount that he makes on average per day, and he is infuriated by the state of things in China. He said, “I would have closed down my shop if there was another option. But I need to make a living to support my family and so have to bear with this injustice.”
This policy, however, is not limited to shop owners. Even at their homes, Muslims are supposed to get all of their iron household products imprinted with QR codes. The police officers can visit for an inspection anytime and demand to look at items such as kitchen knives, gas tanks, cutting machines, electric welders, sledgehammers, axes, sickles, and hoes.
The “ten-household joint defense” – a program intended for Han Chinese to receive “anti-terrorism” training to prevent Uyghur Muslims from revolting against the state – is another policy that is making Xinjiang business owners fearful. Since June, all establishments are supposed to be equipped with helmets, protective clothing, camouflage uniforms, batons, and whistles. The owners are also expected to wear a red armband with the words “maintain stability and public security” and install alarm systems. All of this is done on their own money and totals up to 2,000 RMB (nearly 290 USD).
A local owner, Mr. Wang, reveals that the “ten household joint defense counter-terrorism training” is carried out every day and goes on for half an hour. He said, “The alarm system is connected to the police station and rings frequently. Whenever it rings, we have to get to the designated location within a minute. In this one-minute, we have to put on our camouflage uniform, tie a red armband, and gather the baton.”
Those who fail to show up as expected have their businesses closed down for three days as punishment. If someone dares not to show up at will sent to a “study class.”
Another business owner added, “It’s challenging to stand outside in the hot weather while wearing a helmet and the stuffy protective gear. But if we say anything, we will be deemed as having ‘problematic ideology’ and sent for detention.”
As of September, things have been even more intense. “The police now blow a whistle every 10 minutes. We are all nervous and on the verge of a breakdown,” Mr. Wang said. “It is impossible to conduct business normally in such a situation. Several shops have already closed down because of this,” he added.
A business owner, Mr. Zhang, has spent time in detention because he once complained. He revealed that after being released, the authorities force people like him to report on others. “There are recording devices in our pockets. If anyone is found complaining, they will be sent to a ‘study class,’” he added.
As per authorities, “ten-household joint defense” program is intended for the Han people to be on the lookout for any Muslims wearing clothing with crescent and star symbols, people with beards or face coverings and other “suspicious individuals.”
Reported by Li Zaili
Last updated on November 26, 2018.