According to a senior Chinese analyst the Saudis are the main source of funding for Islamist madrassas in Western China where the 'East Turkistan Independence Movement' has launched several large-scale terror attacks. Although the Saudi government has reassured Beijing that it does not support the homegrown terrorists it either can't or won't stop some members of the royal family from channeling funds to the local jihadis through informal financial channels. 'Our biggest worry in the Middle East isn't oil it's Saudi Arabia' the analyst said.
China's Muslims mainly Uyghurs in Western China who speak a Turkish dialect are Sunni rather than Shia. Like Russia China does not have to worry about Iranian agitation among Shia jihadis and tends to prefer Iran to the Sunni powers. As a matter of form Beijing wants to appear even-handed in its dealings with Iran and Saudi Arabia for example in recent contacts between their respective navies. Chinese analysts emphasize that Beijing has sold weapons to both more in absolute to terms to Iran but more sophisticated weapons to the Saudis.
More pertinent than public diplomacy though is where China is buying its oil.
Nonetheless China's oil import data show a significant shift away from Saudi Arabia towards Russia and Oman (which China considers part of the Iranian sphere of influence). ...