Islam alien to Chinese halal meat magnate

Islam alien to Chinese halal meat magnate
Updated 29 April 2016

Islam alien to Chinese halal meat magnate

Islam alien to Chinese halal meat magnate

Qingtongxia, China: The founder of Sai Wai Xiang Halal Foodstuff Co. does not follow Islam, but still sells more than $50 million-worth of food to Muslims across Asia and the Middle East.
The company is at the forefront of a Chinese drive into the global halal food and beverage market.
Businessman Deng Zhijun bills his wares as “products with Muslim ethnic flavor,” but has difficulty recalling some of Islam’s basic dietary tenets.
“Muslims definitely don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol,” he said over a lunch at the company, in a garden lined with caged peacocks, macaws and chickens. “There’s also some kind of meat they don’t eat, but I forgot.”
His half-knowledge is typical of China’s complicated relationship with Islam, which officially has more than 23 million adherents in the country. Some independent estimates put it as high as 50 million — which would put China among the world’s top 10 Muslim nations.
Deng’s company is based in Ningxia, a western region a third of whose six million population are Hui. The group are a separate minority under Beijing’s classification policies even though most are essentially from the Han ethnic majority, differentiated only by being Muslims.
The global halal food and beverage market is projected to grow to $1.6 trillion by 2018, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013.
There are concerns over how strictly halal standards are followed in China.
Last year, hundred of Muslims took to the streets in Xi’an to protest the sale of alcohol in halal restaurants. In Qinghai province a crowd destroyed a bakery after pork sausages and ham were found in its delivery trucks.
Such fears have an impact in potential export markets, and food safety scares are common in China, from gutter oil to milk powder.
The integrity of Chinese halal food was “questionable,” Miriam Abdul Latif, a professor of food science and a halal expert at the Malaysian University of Sabah, told AFP, citing examples of “fake halal documents or certificates.”
To build consumer trust, Latif said, Chinese companies should have their products inspected by certification bodies from Muslim countries.