The Foreign Policy magazine talks about China’s push to tap into the $1.6 trillion dollar halal food market. Yes, that is trillion and not billion. he is a relevant excerpt from the article:
In Wuzhong, a massive mosque complex resembling an expo center accommodates the annual influx of worshippers attending Friday prayer. Completed in 2011 and known as the Islamic Culture Center, it sits vacant most of the year, though its grounds play host to various city clubs, such as the Wuzhong Poker Association and the Wuzhong Model Art Troupe.
The bustle is part of a major Chinese government push to strengthen its ties with the Middle East and Central Asia. Since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, he has overseen an unprecedented government push to extend China’s economic and diplomatic reach through Central Asia to the Middle East, a group of initiatives collectively called One Belt, One Road. “Yinchuan has a very unique strategic importance for China’s economic and diplomatic outreach to Muslim-majority countries,” Wang Yuting, associate professor of sociology at American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, told me. “The government has been very supportive of the halal food industry in recent years,” Wang said, “contributing to [its] 10 percent annual growth rate.”
Beijing hopes to create national champions out of the hundreds of Chinese halal food companies already in operation. The industry is highly decentralized, with local companies, mostly without nationally recognized brands, serving pockets of Muslims thinly dispersed across the vast country. China lacks national halal standards – most certification occurs on the local or provincial level – and obtaining internationally recognized halal certification has posed a challenge. Malaysian halal certification is the gold standard, but globally, halal certification is still a new phenomenon. Many Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have poorly developed industrial sectors, and many halal consumers continue to rely on locally made products that they recognize and trust.