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Halal sector: China has an estimated 21.6 million Muslims, according to an official census, while independent estimates are as high as 100 million. According to the government, China will have 30 million Muslims by 2020.

The country's estimated $17 billion halal food sector is growing fast with  demand primarily driven by Chinese consumers placing greater trust in halal food following recent food scandals, especially in milk.

China is not considered a major halal food manufacturing hub but in recent years halal food and drinks production has surged to an estimated $17 billion in 2015, placing China just behind Indonesia, with sales of $18 billion, according to Euromonitor. The halal food sector is slated to grow by 6.4 percent per year to reach $19.4 billion by 2020, projects Euromonitor. 

What has really driven demand for halal packaged food is the dairy sector, which accounts for 86 percent, or $14.3 billion, of the total halal market.

Demand has surged following the 2008 Melamine milk contamination scandal, which affected some 300,000 babies and prompted 11 countries to stop the importation of Chinese milk.

Muslim-friendly tourism: Muslim-friendly or halal tourism has yet to take off in China but the foundations are there. China has a long Islamic heritage and a multi-billion dollar halal food sector.

In total, China attracted 57 million overnight visitors in 2015, of which around 7 million were business visitors, according to Tourism Economics.

Of these figures it is not known how many are Muslim tourists visiting the country. But going by visitor rankings, the top 10 inbound tourists come from Asia, the United States, and Russia. Malaysia is in the top 10, while Indonesia is lower down in the rankings.

There are Chinese companies offering Muslim-focused tourism trips to the country, and moves are being made at the provincial level to attract Muslim tourists.

For instance, the province of Ningxia Hui Automomous Region, 600 miles west of the capital Beijing and governed by ethnic Chinese Hui Muslims, announced in May 2016 that it will invest $3.5 billion on a theme park called World Muslim City. The province will also expand its airport, with direct flights planned from Kuala Lumpur and Amman.

Such initiatives and airport developments are considered key to bolstering inbound tourism, especially as Hong Kong dominates as an aviation gateway to China, followed by Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the south, and Shanghai and Beijing in the north.

While both the capital and Shanghai have sizable Muslim populations, the majority of Islamic heritage sites and Muslim populations are in Ningxia, Gansu just to the south of the province, Hunan in the south, and the Xinjiang Uygher Automomous Region in the far west, where 50 percent are Muslim.

GIEI Ranking51
Halal Ranking
Major Industries


Iron and steel





Textiles and apparel (Its cotton textil industry is the world's largest)





Food processing

Automobiles and other transportation

Transportation equipment including rail cars and locomotives, ships and aircraft

Consumer products 

Halal-related agencies Intro

There is no single halal certifier or standard in China and there are different halal standards in each province, which has caused a lot of confusion.

To address such concerns a draft law on a national regulation for halal food was proposed in 2002. At the National People's Congress (NPC) in 2016 it was hoped that the draft law would be passed, but the legislation was dropped in April. Opponents cited the need for a separation between the state and religion, and for food safety laws in general to be improved, which would correspondingly benefit the halal sector.

In the meantime there appears to be a move towards adopting Malaysian halal standards.

In May, it was announced that a state-backed halal hub is to be established in Shaanxi province, with the backers proposing that Malaysia’s Halal Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (HDC) help in its development and the establishment of a halal certification unit.

Halal compliance guidelines Intro
Halal-related trade and trading