What Knowledge Is Sought in China? Arab Visitors and Chinese Propaganda

Number: 48
Kyle Haddad - Fonda

This article investigates the experiences of Arab dignitaries, journalists,  youth groups, and trade envoys who have visited the People’s Republic of  China in an official or semiofficial capacity since China’s initial overtures to  Middle Eastern countries in 1955. First, it outlines the “standard itineraries”  given to Arab delegations touring China both in the 1950s and in the twenty first  century, demonstrating how the changes to this agenda reflect the  shifting priorities of the Chinese state. Second, it explores how the Chinese  government has refined the vision of Chinese Islam that it presents to visitors  from the Middle East, taking into account Beijing’s changing attitude toward  expressions of Islamic piety. Finally, this article asserts that, despite the social  and political transformation China has undergone since 1949, the Chinese  government has tried to impart to its guests a remarkably consistent ideological  message about Chinese unity.