Inventing sensitivity in the name of national security and stability: passport denial and its political economy in Muslim areas in contemporary China

Posted: 2012年02月26日 in Original Thoughts

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A discrimination case against a Chinese Muslim citizen to apply for passport recently captures the attention of thousands of Muslims as well as other concerned citizens of China. The context of the case is that a Muslim student was forced to give up his study opportunity in Malaysia in 2008 because the local security authority in Hui Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu (甘肃临夏回族自治州) had denied his application for passport. The reason behind the denial is very simple that he is a Muslim. This popular discrimination against Muslims in northwest China and the consequence of losing high-learning opportunity force his father Ma Zhifang (马志方) to openly appeal the local and provincial authorities to abandon discriminatory “internal” regulations that totally violate the Chinese constitution and laws on equal citizenship.

To deny Muslim access to passport and their basic citizenship is not new to China’s Tibetan and Muslim minorities in northwest China including Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai, and even Shanxi. Local public security departments and its passport control offices have various “internal” or local “regulations,” “adjustments,” or “amendments” on Uyghur, Tibetan, and Hui and created man-made barriers to passport application. The rhetoric stated in Personal Passport Control Regulations for Citizens in Special Areas associates the local practice with China’s national security:
“The new passport control regulations are made in order to prevent unofficial Hajj or pilgrimage and to maintain national security and stability…”《特殊地区公民申请因私普通护照的调控措施》:“为有效预防零散朝觐和出境听经朝佛活动,切实维护国家的安全稳定,根据《中华人民共和国普通护照和出入境通行证签发管理办法》第三条第五款之规定,现制定特殊地区公民申请因私普通护照调控措施如下。”

The detailed regulations beyond this policy include: Muslims (and Tibetans) have to present oversea invitation letter from immediate relatives for applying for passport if for visit purpose. For tourism purpose, Muslims and Tibetans have to travel with an officially approved travel agency and present ticket and other receipts from the travel agency when apply for passport. In fact, even Muslims who qualify these special requirements are often requested to pay so-called deposit to local security office in the pretext to guarantee the returning of Muslim passports after travel. The deposit, however, is never returned and no Muslim dares to get it back from the security office. Those Muslims and Tibetans who are not or less qualified for the special regulation have to purchase passport in the black market through public security officials or their affiliates. In Linxia, general price for a passport is ¥3500 in 2001 and in neighboring provinces such as Qinghai and Gansu the price ranges from ¥5000 to ¥10,000 . By contrast, in Han areas such as Beijing, Chinese citizens only need to show you identification card when fill the application form and pay less than ¥200.

This open discrimination and practice indicate that like China’s other public offices and departments, security offices in Muslim populated areas have actively deny Muslims’ basic right for passport by inventing sensitivity in the name of national security and stability. By do that, local security offices have heavily exploited Muslims to enrich them by either selling passport or requesting huge sum of bribery. Ma Zhifang’s case is only an edge of iceberg in China’s political economy.

Together with passport control, there is much dirty practice in northwest China directly attacking not only Muslim citizens but also China’s constitution such as
1. “Giving candy to Muslim students during Muslim Ramadan” in Xinjiang,
2. “Asking Muslim cadres to drink wine” in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, and Ningxia, and many others.
3. “Beard training class in Xinjiang” (to educate Muslim men to be beardless)
4. “Weakening religious consciousness.”
5. “execute terrorists on the spot” (or immediately execute “terrorists” without trial”).

Not only public security officials master the art of getting rich through their power, even academic in recent years in Xinjiang, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, and Shanxi have invented many man-made sensitive projects on Islam and Muslims (see project professor article on Project proposals on so-called three forces (“extremism, separatism, and terrorism”) are frequently submitted in Ningxia not only to educational department but also to security department for large funding, which, just like deposit or bribery for passport, has gone to project professor’s own pocket.

Domestically, these barbaric inventions of sensitivity and discriminations against China’s citizen have created local grievances among Muslim and Tibetan populations and alienating Muslim citizens from the state. Internationally, in a globalizing world, communist bourgeois have tried every means to apply politics to economy to enrich the ruling class by abandoning the rule of law. By doing so, they have contributed growth of grievance at local level and converted communist China in ethnic areas into a black market, if not society, where even the realization of basic human and citizen right has to be purchased.

  1. Marry Jones says:

    The Chinese government has already done enough by immigrating millions of Hans into Xinjiang and populating the area. These action in itself kills much of the Uyghur culture. And now they feed candy to kids during Ramadan? Really? That is absolutely disgusting.

  2. anar says:

    “水能载舟亦能覆舟” !

  3. […] if not society, where even the realization of basic human and citizen right has to be purchased. Inventing sensitivity in the name of national security and stability: passport denial and its politi… ********************************************* Reply Tweet […]

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