China’s Muslim Dongxiang minority emerge from isolation – Joshua Bird
“Be sure to try the potatoes, they are world famous,” encouraged Mr. Ma, the owner of the newest restaurant in Dongxiang City, home of the Dongxiang ethnic minority in the Linxia Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu Province. As he hovered over us, his first customers, we dared not disappoint him.
We had endured two hour’s drive up and down the dizzying roads that snaked through the high mountains encircling Dongxiang City in western China, which – complemented by the Yellow, Lintao and Daxia Rivers – had provided the city and its people with a comforting isolation over the centuries. Yet while the mountains have allowed the Dongxiang minority to preserve their unique cultural and religious identity, it has also left them relatively ill equipped to take advantage of China’s economic growth.