Authorities across China impose draconian control measures on Muslims from Xinjiang, prohibiting them from renting properties and running their businesses.
by Deng Jie
“Ever since the police prohibited all property owners from renting to Uyghurs from Xinjiang, they can’t find a place to live because no one is willing to deal with them,” a housing agency employee in Xiamen, a sub-provincial city in the southeastern province of Fujian, told Bitter Winter. “Landlords don’t want to get into trouble.”
“The police thoroughly investigate information on all tenants, and that is why nobody wants to rent their property to Uyghurs,” a property owner in Xiamen explained. The local police fined him 500 RMB (about $ 70) for renting to Uyghurs and demanded to send them ID information and photos of all Uyghur tenants. “The police have no right to do this,” the man added. “These Uyghurs came here to do business. They are not terrorists. This is racial discrimination.”
In March, many rental and real estate agencies in Xiamen received notices from the police, forbidding them to deal with Xinjiang Muslims.
Despite the strict control and discrimination, some Uyghurs still manage to find rental properties, but this doesn’t mean that their lives become easier. “We finally managed to rent an apartment, but on the condition that we report to a local police station three times a week,” an Uyghur living in Xiamen said. “Three days after we signed the rental contract, police officers installed a surveillance camera at our building entrance.”
He added that he also must notify the police if he leaves the area, and officers can call him at any time to learn about his whereabouts. When asked about the reasons for this “special treatment,” the man just shook his head, unwilling to talk more.
Uyghurs also face discrimination in banks. A man who does business in the southern province of Guangdong told Bitter Winter that to transfer money, he has to use his friend’s bank card because banks refused to issue him one.
The CCP’s propaganda has been defaming Xinjiang’s Uyghurs as radicals and extremists for years, creating hostility toward them among the general population, many of whom support the government’s drastic control measures.
“Authorities claim that Uyghurs from Xinjiang are terrorists and restrict them from moving into residential communities,” a grid administrator from Guangdong’s Shenzhen city explained. He added that owners prefer properties to stay empty than to rent to Uyghurs.
Not all, however, agree with the government. “They are really good and honest people that keep their word,” said a Han Chinese from Xiamen, who once rented property to an Uyghur.
Since May, police and anti-terrorism brigade officers started investigating diners and other food shops run by Xinjiang Uyghurs in Xiamen. Also, in the name of “social stability maintenance.”
Such investigations severely impact their businesses. “With so many officers coming to my shop, clients think that we have done something bad and don’t dare to come to eat again,” a waiter in a roast meat shop explained. Some shops and eateries have been forced to shut down because of police harassment.
“The government tries every means possible to deprive Uyghurs of their rights, prohibiting them from renting, doing business, and staying in hotels,” a Han businessman from Xiamen explained. “The goal is to drive them away and cut off all their sources of survival, forcing them back to Xinjiang to be locked in transformation through education camps.”