Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia reportedly culminated in the signing of 35 co-operation agreements worth over $30 billion, covering various sectors and areas of mutual interest, including trade, energy infrastructure, security, education, and foreign policy.  The two countries also made a commitment to “domestic non-interference”, meaning that neither country will criticise the other’s human rights record. 
Uyghur activists understandably reacted to the news with concern and disappointment.  Millions of Uyghurs are detained in camps, tortured, raped, and killed for practicing Islam while many mosques have been demolished.  Uyghurs expect Saudi Arabia – where Makkah and Madina are located – and other Muslim countries to show solidarity. They see the agreement as the latest ‘slap in the face’ following strong diplomatic support of China by Muslim governments at the United Nations. 
The Arab media and prominent commentators generally applauded the China-Saudi agreement without referencing Uyghur concerns.  They note that China does business without imposing its morality, whereas the US and other Western countries link economic co-operation to human rights reforms.  Some point to Western and particularly US double-standards in criticising Saudi Arabia’s rights record while legitimising and enabling Israeli violence against Palestinians.
In contrast to the US, President Xi knows what to say to placate Muslim public sentiments around Palestine. His approach to Palestine resembles the Saudi approach: maintain close covert relations with ‘Israel’ while publicly voicing support for Palestinians. 
Is China truly an ally of the Palestinians?
After the Saudi meetings, Xi issued a statement affirming China’s support of an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  This occurs at a time when China’s free trade negotiations with ‘Israel’ are reportedly stalling due to US pressure.  But let there be no mistake: China remains one of ‘Israel’’s main trading partners, irrespective of current tensions. 
It is worth thinking about the recent Saudi-China agreements, and more broadly the question of Muslim strategic partnerships, through an Ummah-centric lens.
Rasūlullāh Muhammad (ﷺ) likened the Muslim Ummah to the human body. When one limb is injured, the whole body feels the pain. The oppression of Palestinians and Uyghurs should be of equal concern to every Muslim. We should not celebrate Xi’s words of support for Palestine while he continues to kill Muslims in East Turkestan. Likewise, we should think critically about the Biden Administration’s human rights sanctions regime while the US continues to enable Israeli settler-colonial violence against Palestinians.
The Ummah ultimately loses when a Muslim country accepts terms dictated by a non-Muslim power. The three global powers today – the US, China and Russia – all have the blood of Muslims on their hands. Millions of Muslims have died, without accountability or justice, due to US imperial ‘War on Terror’ violence and economic sanctions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Russia has the blood of millions of Muslims on its hands through its support of the Assad dictatorship in Syria, while China’s hands are tainted with Uyghur blood.
The Muslim world could be a global superpower
Allah (subḥānahu wa ta’āla) blessed the Muslim world with natural resources. Our Ummah could be a global superpower if we worked together. Trade with non-Muslim powers – be it China, Russia, or the US – should be on our terms, and in line with the Qur’ān and the Prophetic example in the Sunnah. We should be exporting our morality and rights priorities to an increasingly godless world that needs our oil and gas. Instead, we remain weak and weightless, like ocean foam, dependent on non-Muslim powers and unable to protect the oppressed amongst us.
Rasūlullāh Muhammad (ﷺ) and the Khulafāʾ Rāshidūn achieved incredible success without the oil wealth we have today. They built a strong and unified Ummah composed of peoples from different tribes, nations, skin colours, and cultures, stretching across the Arabian Peninsula into Persia, Africa, and Asia, by overcoming the Jāhilliyya sickness of tribalism. Muslim nations of today should try harder to rediscover and resurrect this spirit of pan-Muslim co-operation.