By IAN JOHNSON
The New York Times - SEPT. 6, 2016
Matthew S. Erie, a trained lawyer and ethnographer who teaches at Oxford University, lived for two years in Linxia, a small city in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu. Known as China’s Mecca, it is a center of religious life for the Hui, an ethnic minority numbering 10 million who practice Islam. Along with the Turkic Uighurs, they are one of 10 officially recognized ethnic groups that practice Islam, making the total population of Muslims in China around 23 million, according to the 2010 government census.
Mr. Erie’s recently published book, “China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law,” is a look at how Shariah — Islamic law and ethics — is implemented among the Hui. In an interview he discussed his findings, which confound many preconceptions about Shariah, Chinese law and the rigidity of the Communist state.
How should we understand the statistics on Muslims in China? Officially there are 23 million, but this assumes that Islam is an ethnicity, and that all Hui, or all Uighurs, must be Muslim.