Demand for halal food items is rising in China, and domestic producers are striving to meet it. But while the growth of China’s domestic halal market mirrors increasing demand around the world, it is difficult for Chinese producers to tap into the global market, due not least to the lack of internationally recognized halal certification processes. This problem was the focus of a recent halal trade fair and conference in Xi’an that featured Muslim religious leaders and halal industry specialists from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Brunei, but not from China. The event was organized and supported by local government and business authorities, who worked with an international Muslim marketing firm that will assist local halal producers to obtain recognized halal certification. This paper examines the Xi’an conference and trade fair as an example of the commercialization and branding of halal in China and explores the ramifications of this process for Muslims in China and for China’s desire to participate in the growing transnational halal economy.
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