Changing State-Religion Dynamics in Xi-Jinping's China: And its Consequences for Sino-Saudi Relations

The main purpose of this report is to offer readers an overview of new developments that have taken place in China with respect to the party-state's management of Islam, as well as the consequences of these new developments for Sino-Saudi relations. The report is organized into four sections. The first section discusses the authoritarian turn under way in China, which serves to contextualize the new religious controls as the backdrop of a system-wide transformation. The second section looks at the party-state's traditional approach towards the religious sphere and the mechanisms of control it employs towards it. The third section highlights some of the changes that have taken place in the party-state's management of the religious sphere. It demonstrates the departures from traditional approaches of control, especially with regards to Islam and discusses some of the factors that have contributed to altering the party-state's attitudes, including, for example, Saudi Arabia's perceived role in promoting religious subversion. The last section considers some of the consequences this may carry for the future development of Sino-Saudi relations, and offers in turn a few policy recommendations aimed at avoiding such outcomes.