In Xinjiang, China, home to a large swath of the country’s Uyghur Muslim population, Chinese officials are encouraging inter-ethnic marriages through cash bribes among other means, the New York Times reports.
The Xinjiang region has been hit with a recent surge in Islamic terrorism, and officials have decided the best way to combat radicalism is to offer incentives for the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities to marry individuals who are Han Chinese, who constitute over 90% of the population of China’s mainland.
Officials in one Cherchen County offered as much $1,600 USD each year for five years, available for inter-ethnic newlyweds when one member is Han and the other is an ethnic minority. If the couple decides to buy a house together, they will be granted as much as $3,200 per year in health care subsidies. Additionally, their children will receive $500 per year to subsidize their tuition for a trade school, and $800 per year if they end up attending a university. The director of the county said that the new policy of promoting interethnic marriage is “an important step in the harmonious integration and development of all ethnicities.”
James A. Millward, a chinese expert at Georgetown University, told the Times, “There is a danger… that state-sponsored efforts of ‘blending’ and ‘fusion’ will be seen by Uyghurs in China or by China’s critics anywhere as really aimed at assimilating Uyghurs into Han culture — in other words, as an attempt to Sinify the Uyghurs.”
In 2012, GDP per capita in China was listed at a little over $6,000 US, more than eight times less that of the United States. Although China has maintained a high rate of growth following the relaxation of regulations, 68% of its population still lives on less than $5 a day, according to the World Bank.
China has implemented various means to try and stop the surge in Islamic terrorism, such as banning the observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Earlier this summer, Xinjiang was hit with an onslaught of terror attacks. On May 22, Uyghur militants bombed a crowded market in the regional capital of Urumqi, killing 43.
Many Uyghur radicals have begun to associate themselves with the East Turkestan movement, a Pakistan-based group that seeks an Islamic state in Xinjiang. The group uses the flag of Jihad as its symbol, which is also shared by radical entities such as al-Qaeda.