Photo Credit: Todenhoff via Flickr
Uyghur hunter

Boy, was I wrong!

Writing last year about the Muslim world ignoring the mistreatment of Uyghers under Chinese rule, I suggested that critics are eager to attack Israel with use damning parallels between Uyghurs and Palestinian Arabs:

We see how there are attempts to draw parallels between Palestinian Arabs and Ukrainians on the one hand and Israel and Russia on the other.

How long before we see similar parallels of Palestinian Arabs with Uyghurs and Israel with China?


Now it seems that such a comparison is unlikely to be made — considering that Mahmoud Abbas has joined the chorus defending China’s detention centers. The Associated Press reported Palestinian leader Abbas ends China trip after backing Beijing’s crackdown on Muslim minorities:

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas wrapped up a trip to China Friday after seeking economic aid and voicing support for Beijing’s repressive policies toward Muslim minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

…In the statement, the Palestinian Authority said issues regarding China’s policy toward Muslims in Xinjiang have “nothing to do with human rights and are aimed at excising extremism and opposing terrorism and separatism.”

“Palestine resolutely opposes using the Xinjiang problem as a way of interfering in China’s internal affairs,” the joint statement said.

In turning his back on his fellow Muslims, Abbas is merely joining other Muslim countries in pushing the Uyghers under the bus.

In July 2019, a group of 37 countries signed a letter claiming that criticism of China’s treatment of the Uyghers amounted to “politicizing human rights.” They echoed China’s claim that the detention centers were merely “vocation education and training centers.”

Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers.

The signatories to that letter included Muslim countries such as Algeria, Bahrain, Belarus, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.

Abbas clearly has good company.

But some Muslim countries have done more than just support China’s treatment of Uyghurs vocally. The Telegraph reported in 2020 that Turkey helped China by facilitating the return of Uyghurs back to China. And according to the BBC Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE forcibly sent Uyghurs in their countries back to China.

Fortunately, the West Bank is not noted for its Uyghur population.

By backing China, Abbas can expect the support of a major competitor to the US in the Middle East. Besides the recognition, it is not clear what kind of economic cooperation Abbas and the PA can look forward to. But Abbas should be careful about what he wishes for:

China relies on such partnerships to bolster its diplomatic posture and give large Chinese corporations a leg-up when negotiating infrastructure deals in line with the government’s “Belt and Road Initiative” that has left many struggling countries in deep debt to Chinese banks. [emphasis added]

The Arab world has become reluctant to fund the PA, seeing how the corruption of the Abbas government has turned those investments into money that merely lines the pockets of Palestinian leaders, so maybe the Chinese should be careful too. All in all, this might be a deal that will not benefit either side.

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Bennett Ruda has been blogging at since 2003. He also contributes to the Elder of Ziyon website. Bennet lives in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with his wife and two children