Ningxia: Around 8,000 people of Hui ethnic group from northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region are taking advantage of their language skills to explore their career opportunities in China’s leading small-commodity center Yiwu, in east China’s Zhejiang province, reported Ningxia Daily May 22, 2009.
About 3,000 work as Arabic language interpreters. In fact, Hui Arabic linguists account for more than 75 percent of all Arabic translators in Yiwu, and over 1,500 engage in international trade. About 30 companies owned by Hui people there have an annual trade volume of more than 10 millions dollars.
As an international procurement base of small commodities, Yiwu has attracted over 10,000 business people from Arab countries and each year about 100,000 Arabic business people visit the city to purchase the small commodities.
The Hui is an Islamic group with a population of roughly 9.816 million. 1.8625 million, or 18.9 percent, of them live in communities in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities such as Beijing, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Anhui, Shandong, Henan, Yunnan and Xinjiang also have a combined Hui population of more than 200,000.
The name Hui is an abbreviation for "Huihui," a term which first appeared in the literature of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). It referred to the Huihe people who have lived in Anxi in the present-day Xinjiang and its vicinity since the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The huihe were actually ancestors of the Uygurs, who today are a totally different ethnic group from the Hui, who began to emerge as a distinctive group during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The Islamic religion has a deep influence on the life style of the Hui people. But because of the long history of contact and living with the Han Chinese, Hui speak fluent Chinese, though they also use some Arabic and Persian phrases.