By Mahmut Atanur
BEIJING (AA) – Chinese officials are planning to crack down on “fake” halal food by improving systems and mechanisms for its administration, state media reported Wednesday.
An unnamed official from the State Ethnic Affairs Commission told state news agency Xinhua that local departments aim to ban unlawful authentication procedures amid an alleged “trend of over-generalization”.
The official underlined Tuesday that the government defines halal food “as a custom of Muslim people, rather than food conforming to Islamic Sharia” as it seeks to “prevent religion from interfering with secular life”.
Since 1949, Chinese state institutions have been governed by the Communist Party of China - in theory, an atheist institution.
In April, a plan to regulate halal food was not included in China's legislative work order for 2016, after concerns were raised that the law would lead to the government having authority over religious issues.
The country has been contemplating whether to pass such a law since the Ethnic Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress was tasked with drafting a national regulation in 2002.
Some of China’s around 20 million Muslims from its many ethnic minority groups have voiced concern that guidelines on halal have routinely been flouted.
In May 2015, the Global Times reported that several Muslims had destroyed the facilities of a bakery in Xining, in Northwest Qinghai Province, after discovering non-halal items such as pork sausages and ham in its delivery van.
Hundreds of Muslims in Northwest Shaanxi Province have also taken to the streets to demand a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at halal restaurants.