Islam has been in China for 1400 years, mostly concentrated in the north-western provinces of Ningxia, Gansu and Xinjiang. Official census figures place the number of Muslims at around 22 million, but unofficial estimates place that figure higher. Muslims in China come from 10 different nationalities, the three largest being Hui, Uyghur and Khazak, with around 10, 8.5 and 2 million members respectively. All the nationalities mostly follow Sunni Islam, with Sufi-ism being part of Uyghur tradition, but less so among Hui. Linguistically and culturally the Hui are more assimilated into mainstream Chinese society, while the Uyghurs and Khazaks live mostly in the frontier province of Xinjiang and as Turkic cultures, they share traits with the Central Asian republics which border China.

Many cities in eastern China have also had small Muslim communities for centuries, their mosques forming a unique architectural style influenced by both Chinese classical architecture and Islamic design. Due to the comparatively poorer economy in China's interior and degredation of farming land on China's Loess Plateau, these urban communities are growing as many from the North-West migrate south and east, finding employment most visibly in the form of restaurants serving Chinese-Islamic cuisine. Muslim restaurants have become part of the fabric of urban China, catering to Han Chinese customers as well as their own communities. In particular Uyghur restaurants often cater to a wealthier middle-class clientele, able to "add value" to Xinjiang cuisine by providing song and dance performances as part of the experience.

Despite the convivial atmosphere that might be found in one of Beijing's Uyghur restaurants, sporadic terror attacks against government targets have occurred in western Xinjiang in the past 20 years and a protest in Urumqi in 2009 escalated into race-riots, leading to hundreds of deaths. The Chinese government has been keen to stress inter-ethnic unity and blame such incidents on extremist influence from the unstable republics which border Xinjiang. No doubt plenty Uyghur share this view and want to continue their lives in peace, yet specific issues do remain over the difficulty of obtaining passports to visit Mecca, equal opportunity between Uyghur and Han and between urban and rural areas in accessing benefits of Xinjiang's resource-extraction economy, language policies in education and in government which favour the use of Mandarin over Uyghur language, and finally issues with the Communist Party's uncompromising tactics in controlling the debate on such issues.

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Linxia, Gansu
A refurbished mosque competes with new residential towers for dominance of the city skyline. Linxia is nicknamed "Little Mecca of China" for its historical role as a centre for Islam in China. Today, Linxia's Muslim population is around 55%, mostly Hui.
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near Linxia, Gansu
Posters of fruit are a popular restaurant decoration among the Hui.
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near Linxia, Gansu
View from the restaurant in a Hui village. Many villages around Linxia are split into either Hui or Han rather than mixed. There are pockets of other Islamic nationalities e.g Dongxiang.
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Taizi Shan, Linxia, Gansu
In order to "develop" the nature reserve, new houses have been built next to the current village. Nobody wants to move though. The new houses are not only smaller than their current home, but also colder in winter, with no barn below to warm the floor.
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Taizi Shan, Linxia, Gansu
Children of a bee-keeping family play outside the makeshift camp they will live in throughout the summer months.
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Bogda Shan, Xinjiang
East of Urumqi lies the Bogda Shan range, reaching 5440m. Rivers fed by glacier meltwater allow the Uighurs and Hui to cultivate the arid desert basins, while lush grassland in the foothills provide a living for semi-nomadic Khazak herders.
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Bogda Shan, Xinjiang
A Khazak nationality mother and daughter outside their village home in the foothills. The mother only speaks her native tongue, but Nurlan 努尔兰 her daughter studies at a school in Urumqi and is bilingual in both Khazak and Mandarin.
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Bogda Shan, Xinjiang
An old TV sits in a rural Khazak family home. They now use a larger colour TV. The interior walls are decorated with woven carpets, framed Arabic calligraphy, and a large poster of karst scenery in south China.
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Bogda Shan, Xinjiang
Khazak yurts made from sheepskin are dotted around the high pastures between 2300-3300 metres. Although horses are kept for transport and cows kept for meat and milk, the most lucrative income comes from selling sheep and goat's wool.
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Bogda Shan, Xinjiang
During the summer, Khazak herders such as Rahman 热后曼 (on the left) take turns to work the high pastures; a month up in the yurt, then a month off, spent down in the village with their families.
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near Urumqi, Xinjiang
Kitchen of a Hui Muslim noodle restaurant, one of several located at an exposed road-junction battered by duststorms and tumbleweed.
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Turpan, Xinjiang
Though there are department stores in the newer northern part of Turpan where Han Chinese live, the hub for the city's majority Uyghur population is still the traditional bazar marketplace, selling everything from prayer mats to frying pans.
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Turpan, Xinjiang
Uyghur carpet sellers demonstrate their product at Turpan's bazar. Cheaper carpets are machine-made, hand-woven carpets cost more.
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Turpan, Xinjiang
Government propaganda mural, with the slogan "两会代表话国策" or "People's Congress representatives talk about National Policy." Following the 2009 Urumqi riots, many murals have been painted along the road which leads to Turpan's historic mosque.
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Turpan, Xinjiang
Men sit and chat outside a small mosque.
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Turpan, Xinjiang
Uyghur tourists/pilgrims getting their photo taken standing in "Allah's light" at the 18th century Emin Mosque in Turpan. On any Friday around a third of the men who worship at the mosque are not local, but in fact tourists from other areas of Xinjiang.
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Flaming Mountain, Xinjiang
The village of Tuyuk sits at the foot of Flaming Mountain and is being promoted for tourism as the best example in the Turpan area of a traditional Uyghur village.
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Flaming Mountain, Xinjiang
Lying below sea-level, the Turpan Basin is the hottest place in China, often reaching 50 C. Since Xinjiang is far to the west of Beijng yet shares a timezone, the hottest part of the day is at 4pm. Many Uyghurs use unofficial "Xinjiang Time".
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Flaming Mountain, Xinjiang
Muhammat has three children, the eldest of whom is in the army. His own brothers and sisters all live in adjacent houses. In his spare-time he is reading a report by German archaeologists on the Buddhist caves behind the village, translated into Uyghur.
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Flaming Mountain, Xinjiang
Residents of Tuyuk village gather in the local shop to watch television.
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Flaming Mountain, Xinjiang
Boys play on fibreglass camels. After the Buddhist caves in Tuyuk were closed for safety reasons, tourist numbers have dropped, and tourism infrastructure has fallen into disrepair.
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Flaming Mountain, Xinjiang
Fruit-drying huts in the desert. Selling dried grapes and melons by the roadside is a source of income for villagers. While the extraction of oil on the nearby plains has not provided many jobs for locals, it has led to an increase in passing traffic.