Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Saudi Arabia this Wednesday to attend the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh, a move that promises more Sino-Saudi cooperation.
This Wednesday evening, and following a formal invitation from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Saudi’s capital of Riyadh, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China.
The visit, which is planned to last for three days, will also be attended by other Arab heads of state and members of the Arab League.
In a statement a day before Xi’s arrival, the official Saudi Press Agency noted that “close relations between the two countries were initiated 80 years ago, encompassing various aspects of cooperation and development.” Good to mention that Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia is his third trip abroad ever since the coronavirus pandemic began and his first to Saudi Arabia since 2016.
Along with Xi Jinping, a Chinese delegation is now in Riyadh and the three-day trip is therefore going to be quite fretful. In this regard, Saudi and Chinese diplomats noted this Wednesday that China is expected to sign dozens of agreements and memoranda of understanding with Saudi Arabia ss well as with other Gulf nations and other Arab states covering energy, security and investments.
“The level of representation depends on each country with many Arab leaders expected to attend, others would send at least their foreign ministers,” one of the Arab diplomats told Reuters.
Back in November, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, referred to this meeting and said in a news conference that “strengthening trade ties and regional security would be priorities in this upcoming visit.” Saudi Arabia is already the largest oil importer for the Asian giant, accounting for 17 percent of China’s oil imports in 2021.
China’s extending relations with Saudi Arabia, an alarm for Washington
Xi’s friendly approach towards Saudi Arabia is happening at the same time as relations between Washington and Riyadh is experiencing a deadlock, mostly due to energy-related issues. Not to mention the hostility that exists in the Sion-American relations, which is of course nothing new.
To read between the lines, Saudi Arabia and many other Gulf states have, in the past few years, been strengthening their ties with China and Russia, which is not good news for the United States. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for example, have resisted Washington’s pressure to “choose sides” when it comes to their ties with China, a major trade partner, and Russia, a fellow member of the OPEC+ oil producer alliance.
To make matters even worse, differences of opinion on oil production has made US relations with Arab states even more tense. It was back in October that the Saudi-led OPEC+ decided to cut its oil production despite U.S. objections, further fraying long-standing ties with Saudi Arabia that Biden had tried to mend during his visit to the kingdom in July.
Also upon Xi’s arrival to Saudi Arabia, the White House immediately issues a statement, warning that China’s attempts to exert its influence worldwide are “not conducive” to the international order.
“We are mindful of the influence that China is trying to grow around the world. The Middle East is certainly one of those regions where they want to deepen their level of influence,” said John Kirby, the US National Security Council spokesman.