Beijing Noise

Status Updates:

Gulou Neighborhood: Partially destroyed but still alive, hutongs shrinking into ever-smaller pockets, festooned with banners about harmoniously participating in pre-census surveys that should effectively run most undesireables out of the neighborhood by November 1.

The Chinese Internet: remains blocked, NY and LA Times are available, Twitter and its biggest Chinese imitator FanFou are both blocked, WordPress is open, Blogspot is blocked.  Unlike South Korea, I can read North Korean “news” on KCNA in China, although the North Korean government inexplicably does not have a Chinese-language news service.

Commemorations of August 15: This year the CCP decided on 8/15 as a national day of mourning for the Gansu landslide victims, but there was still a fair amount in today’s papers about war commemorations across East Asia.

Mosques I’ve Seen in Beijing So Far: Zero.  As in “Ground Zero.”  Whereas it was common to run into Uighurs in Beijing prior to 2008, it seems that most of them have been politely (or not-so politely) asked to leave the city.  Which is my way of saying that Islam is global, and to pretend that the US is the only country that struggles with the integration of Muslims within the polity is folly.  How the United States deals with Islam and endeavors to prevent discrimination against Muslims can play a role — however marginal, however futile — in providing global models for toleration, if not building a positive international image of the United States.  President Obama’s Friday remarks on the role of mosques in Manhattan and their connection to religious freedom in the USA therefore looks pretty good from China, where his statement has gotten a small amount of attention. In a best-case scenario, Obama spurs a minor dialogue in the PRC about religious tolerance, not the power of the American right wing.

Is it really a good thing that US-China cooperation in the so-called “War on Terror” became part of the basis of what was, all things considered, a pretty good decade in Sino-US relations?

On a side note, it’s almost as if the opponents of a mosque near the World Trade Center see the thing as a kind of Yasukuni Shrine which will deify the souls of the 9/11 attackers.  Does a single iota of evidence support this view?  Perhaps opponents of the mosque would be satisfied by moving all of mosques out of lower Manhattan and then ceding the entire area to Joel Osteen’s feel-good brand of stadium-Christianity for Texans with SUVs?

Beijing Mongolian-Style Heavy Metal scene:  Alive and thriving.  My ears are still ringing from the three-hour rehearsal in the Gulou 121 Club which I was just privileged to witness.


  1. Adam,

    Have you ever been to to Niujie? There are plenty of mosques around. As to Uighurs, have they completely disappeared in Weigongcun?

  2. I haven’t been to Weigongcun in a while, but the last time I was there (a couple of years ago, admittedly) it was pretty Uighur-free, especially compared to what it was like before.

    Mongolian heavy metal: would that have been “Voodoo Kungfu,” the Mongolian satanist death metal band fronted by a former seminary student? Those guys are awesome.

  3. Most of the mosques in Beijing are for Hui and Uyghurs basically go to these mosques….there are over 200,000 Muslims in beijing….and several sub-county suburbs are populated by Muslims…

    1. Xinjiang Review, thanks for the comments and the information! There should be more up-to-date figures on population and religious practices once this big census is completed in November. I’ve been suprised to see a large number of slogans everywhere about it, and census workers, but anecdotally anyway (e.g., from my own experience the past few days) the Muslims I know in the area I’ve lived in for the longest here (Gulou/Di’anmen) are all gone, to heaven knows where. I don’t think they had hukou in the first place.

      BTW, it’s unfortunate that your site is blocked here in China and I as yet have no VPN, but hope that things are going well on that front. Thanks again for visiting and for the good info.

  4. Adam, nice analysis of the NYC mosque. The U.S. needs to be a leader in this front and set a positive example.

    1. Thanks Chuck — I spent some time today with the long article on page 16 (the back page, and therefore prominent) of today’s Huanqiu Shibao ( which shows that although Xinhua spun the story a bit (evidence of Western culture’s more general tendency to heighten contradictions), at least it’s getting some discussion going in China. Apologies for all the parentheses! Maybe I’ll get this thing translated at some point…

  5. By the way Adam, I wanted to further point out to you and justrecently that even though most Uighurs are Muslim but certainly not all Chinese Muslims are Uighur. Hui outnumbers the Uighurs and any other Chinese Muslims by a big margin I believe. The notion suggested by justrecently that there are no Muslims in Beijing is outright silly.

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