The Communist Party of China’s United Front Work in the Gulf: The “Ethnic Minority Overseas Chinese” of Saudi Arabia as a Case Study

Number: 34

Mohammed Al-Sudairi

The report examines the ‘United Front’ activities undertaken by the Communist Party of China towards Saudi Overseas Chinese in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, estimated to be anywhere between 150,000 and 180,000. It introduces the concept of the ‘United Front’ as it relates to Chinese politics and foreign relations, examining both its historical evolution and contemporary applications. The report then explores the ways in which United Front activities have been carried out in the Saudi context, and specifically with respect to the Sinophone Muslim (Hui) and Turkestani (Uyghur, Uzbek and Khazakh) clusters constituting the Saudi Overseas Chinese community. Finally, it considers – in connection to ongoing global debates on the issue of the United Front – whether these United Front activities can be seen as a potential political problem for Sino-Saudi, and perhaps even Sino-Gulf, relations overall.