The NY Times had a fascinating article a few days ago about the Dongxiang people, a Muslim minority in China. While it's easy to think of China as a rather homogeneous place, there are many ethnic groups (some officially recognized, some not) and not all have been influenced much by China, despite being under Chinese rule for many years.
The article talks about the possible origins of the Dongxiang (probably Central Asian) and a few of their traditions. They live mostly in Gansu province in western China. They are one of the many Muslim groups still existent in China.
One of the most telling quotes in the story was this: "I know what China is," said Mr. Tie, 68. "It is a country run by people who are supposed to be helping us."
As I've read more about China's ethnic minorities, it is interesting to see the difference between the official government line and the actual opinions of the people. This is one excellent example of that. China is an amazingly diverse place that I wish I could explore more- especially western China.