I have been meaning to post this some time ago but work kept on coming up,The Atlantic has an article on Islam in China. Here is an except:
Beijing has gotten so very good at Islamic diplomacy that everything from traditional Muslim headdresses to prayer beads and rugs are available for purchase on China’s Ministry of Foreign Commerce Web site. These products are mainly manufactured at Chinese-owned factories in Yiwu, an industrial town in Zhejiang Province that has become a hub of Arab and Muslim commerce in the People’s Republic.
The U.S. may have a tough time catching up with China’s new crop of Islamophiles, especially given the GOP candidates’ recent gaffes on Chinese affairs. It seems that China, for which ideology is at once all-important and ever-flexible, could become better skilled at reaching out to certain foreign cultures than the United States, which has spent so much of the post-Cold War era with a monopoly on hard as well as soft power.
Still, American Muslims like Tarin advise U.S. officials to observe the importance of dynamism and building soft power in Muslim-majority nations.
“I generally tell folks in government, if we don’t know how to engage some of the different tendencies in the Middle East — Islamist groups rising — if we don’t know how to engage them and can’t get beyond the national security conversation, there are powers that want to work past that conversation,” Tarin said.
“But we can’t build mosques and metros like that,” he said, acknowledging that U.S. soft power works differently than China’s, and is not always quite as direct. “We make investments in civil society.”
Despite China’s strong foray into the world of Islamic infrastructural projects, Sino-Muslim relations will still have to overcome a past tarnished by a “win-win” in corruption as well as non-payment of wages and construction fees. And China is still figuring out how to maneuver lethargic bureaucracies and fickle monarchies. The China Railroad Construction Company expected to book losses of up to $623 million earlier this year after the Saudi authorities in charge of the Mecca Light Rail requested, and then failed to pay for, some mid-construction changes.
You can read the complete article at the following URL: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/islam-with-chinese-characteristics/251409/