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Although a mere description of facial hair, the term "beard" has been elevated to support a controversy over the type of beards worn in the Central Asia area of China called Xinjiang and more generally across Asia. The wearing of a particular kind of beard has become synonymous with identifying with extremist interpretations of Islam. This has raised the profile of beard wearing in the same way that the wearing of niqabs has for women.

The supposed ban on beards for young men in Xinjiang has been asserted by anti-China commentators as evidence of cultural erasure - in fact, beard-wearing, along with a multitude of other practices, were used as indicators of possible radicalisation of youth (as they were throughout most of central and south eastern Asia) and were never part of a ban.