Rising separatist tension Official disapproval of lengthy undesired facial hair in Xinjiang isn’t new. The region abuts Central Asia, where there are significant oil reserves and which is home to large numbers of Uighurs, an ethnic group that is traditionally Muslim. As reported by The Wall Street Journal : A 2012 report from the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, for instance, found that promotions to prevent Muslims in the region from wearing overly bushy beards or–in the case of women–covering their locks with scarves are raising. Many Muslims use beards as an indication of their faith. In some cases, the commission said, recipients of welfare benefits in the province experienced to agree not to put on veils or large beards to be able to receive welfare benefits.