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OP INDIA: Saudi Arabia seeks to strengthen ties with China even as persecution of Uyghur Muslims continues in the communist country

The below article was published by Op India, photo credit: Reuters/ Damir Sagolj

Recently, the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia has given the green signal to Chinese language textbooks that are published in the Yinchuan region of China. As such, it became the first set of foreign textbooks that were approved by the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is eyeing to strengthen bilateral ties with the Chinese Communist regime, amidst reports of heightened persecution of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang province of China.

Recently, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping was on a 3-day visit to Saudi Arabia. During his first official visit to the oil-rich country since 2016, he held meetings with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Xi also met members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and vowed to deepen ties with the Arab world. He also pledged to buy more oil from the Middle East and asked Arab partners to “conduct energy sales in the Chinese yuan.”

Amidst waning relations with the US, Saudi Arabia is cosying up to China with an increased focus on the teaching of Mandarin in the academic curriculum. As early as 2020, Mandarin was introduced in 8 high schools by the Saudi authorities to strengthen bilateral ties with China.

Reportedly, Saudi Arabia has trained over 300 local teachers in the Chinese language, supported over 1000 college students to participate in ‘the International Chinese Language Teachers Scholarship’ and set up majors in Mandarin in 9 universities.

Ohud Al Fares, the undersecretary for Public Education at the Saudi Education Ministry, has informed that the regime has introduced the Chinese language as an optional subject in some private and public schools.

“The Chinese language is one of the important world languages. It is taught with the aim of enabling students to gain the necessary skills. Teaching the Chinese language will be expanded as part of optional curricula,” she was quoted as saying.

Recently, the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia has given the green signal to Chinese language textbooks that are published in the Yinchuan region of China. As such, it became the first set of foreign textbooks that were approved by the Kingdom.

The books, developed over a course of four years, combine Arabic and traditional Chinese cultures and are specifically designed to cater to the habits and reading methods of Arabs.

Over 100 young Chinese-language learners from Saudi Arabia wrote to Xi about their experience and the Chinese Premier personally responded to the letter as a means of diplomatic outreach.

Persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China
The development comes at a time when the Chinese regime has intensified the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. It must be mentioned that Saudi Arabia occupies a significant place in the Muslim world as it is home to the holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina.

In the Xinjiang province of China, nearly 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities have been reportedly detained in a network of detention centres since 2017. By stating that the camps are vocational training schools, Beijing has refuted numerous reports that it has tortured Muslims in Xinjiang.

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) objective is to integrate Uyghurs into the dominant Han Chinese ethnicity by stripping them of their religious and ethnic identities. Uyghur Muslims are faced with re-educational camps, forced labour, and digital surveillance, including their children being indoctrinated in orphanages.

The CPC restricts any news revealing the horrors committed against the Uyghurs in the detention centres.

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