Saudi Arabia and China staged the strengthening of ties and mutual cooperation with the reception offered by the Saudi King, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, to the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in Riyadh.
Xi Jinping is on a three-day official visit in which the Chinese leader has witnessed the signing of a series of agreements with various Saudi authorities, as reported by the official Saudi news agency SPA. All of this is part of a three-day tour by the president of the Asian giant that began on Wednesday and in which he will take part this Friday in a summit with Arab countries and another with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council with a view to deepening political ties and boosting investment.
During the high-level meeting at the Al-Yamama Palace, Xi Jinping met with the Saudi monarch and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and there was consensus on the "historic friendship" between Saudi Arabia and China.
The Saudi King and the Chinese President initialled a "comprehensive strategic partnership agreement" that takes the bilateral relationship between the two countries to a new level. The pact includes various aspects such as meetings between the heads of state of the two countries every two years and the implementation of political, economic, technological, scientific and even cultural initiatives. Afterwards, Xi Jinping had a one-on-one meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince in which they discussed the state of the Saudi-Chinese partnership and joint coordination efforts to enhance cooperation between the two countries. They also discussed noteworthy investment opportunities.
In addition, Mohammed bin Salman and Xi Jinping were present at the signing of several memoranda of understanding in different fields such as energy, highlighting the one related to renewable energy and hydrogen, and the one related to increasing direct investment between the two countries. Cooperation agreements were also sealed in the judicial sector, in civil and economic matters; another for the teaching of the Chinese language; and a cooperation plan in the field of housing.
The New Silk Road developed by China to increase international trade flows and the Asian giant's technology company Huawei were among the economic pacts that materialised. The Silk Road initiative will be combined with the Saudi Vision 2030 programme, developed by Saudi Arabia to boost various economic sectors with a view to reducing the Kingdom's financial dependence on oil and diversifying its sources of income. In addition, the agreement signed with Huawei is related to cloud computing and the construction of several new technology complexes in Saudi cities. These commitments are in addition to the 34 trade agreements signed by Saudi Arabia and China on Wednesday on joint development of projects in "energy, technology, cloud services, transport and logistics, medical industries and factories".
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques @KingSalman and #China’s President H.E Xi Jinping sign in the presence of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement between the two countries. 🇸🇦🇨🇳 pic.twitter.com/UsDjmND95k— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) December 8, 2022
With this strategic move, China continues to gain political clout in the Middle East, where it is extending its political and investment influence in order to strengthen alliances in the region. This situation may continue to make the United States uncomfortable because of the struggle between the US and China for global leadership. The US has lost some influence in the Gulf states, which in recent times have not followed US dictates despite historically strong alliances. Several surrounding Arab countries are pursuing an independent policy that has not bowed to US pressure on some issues, such as oil production and oil prices, an area in which Arab nations have respected the OPEC+ agreement. Joe Biden's US government has recently focused more attention on the Indo-Pacific area to counter China's presence, leaving the Middle East to one side, something that has not gone down well with several Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, despite the fact that they are still allies of the United States, in any case, as several experts have pointed out.