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Official urges proper use of ‘halal’ term

(Global Times)    13:19, March 14, 2017

Labeling on products should accurately, clearly describe concept

The Party chief of Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region recently said that they have noticed a trend of misleading use of the halal concept and called for better definition to avoid confusion.

There has been a trend of hyping up the concept of halal, a term originally used to distinguish sources of meat, but it does not mean that such trend is irresistible, Li Jianhua, secretary of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at a conference during the fifth session of the 12th National People's Congress on March 7, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

About one-third of Ningxia's 6.68 million population are Muslim.

"Some bottled water and other daily necessities are labeled with halal logo, which might be a promotional tactic used by the producers to convey the message that the water tastes better," Li said.

However, putting halal logos on non-food products has expanded the concept of halal beyond its original narrow connotation, Li noted.

The use of halal labeling should be accompanied by accurate description to avoid different interpretations by people of other ethnic groups as well as unnecessary misunderstanding, Li said.

In July 2016, a Beijing supermarket's ban on customers bringing in non-halal food sparked controversy, as some consumers worried religion was becoming more involved in the secular life in China.

By elaborately expanding the concept of "halal," some foreign forces are selling their malicious ideas of pan-Islamism and desinicization in a bid to sabotage China's national security, social stability and unity among ethnic groups, Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing's Minzu University of China, told the Global Times previously.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs said it will tackle the hyping, twisting or expansion of the halal concept, said Wang Zuoan, director of the administration, at the opening session of the 10th National Congress of Chinese Muslims in November 2016.

From 2016, departments have strengthened administration of halal food, and urged local governments to properly address over-generalization. The official stressed that the government should strictly define halal food as a custom of Muslim people, rather than food conforming to Islamic Sharia, in a bid to prevent religion from interfering with secular life, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Wu Shimin, former deputy director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, said at the same conference that Ningxia has combined the religious and ethnic work with economic contribution, which improves the living conditions of people of different ethnicities, according to the CCTV.

China has a Muslim population of more than 23 million, mostly living in the country's north and northwest.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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