China and Saudi Arabia seal comprehensive strategic partnership

Last week Chinese President Xi Jinping led a large delegation for three days of meetings with Saudi leaders in Riyadh. It was Xi’s first visit to a foreign country since the pandemic and the confinements.

China and Saudi Arabia have become integral strategic allies. The visit has led to the signing of 34 key economic agreements. Bilateral investment agreements worth $50 billion were signed.

The two sides also agreed on coordination between Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development programme and China’s Silk Road, launched in 2013.

The visit came against the backdrop of strained US relations with both countries, but is not the result of a sudden policy shift stemming from the Ukraine War.

In 2004 China and the 22 members of the Arab League created the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, which has given China the leverage to develop a collective strategy to build trade, economic and political ties with the entire Arab world, based on the five traditional principles of peaceful coexistence.

Last year China announced plans to build 1,000 schools in Iraq, a story that was not reported by any media in Western countries, but which took up considerable space in the Arab world.

In the first half of this year, Riyadh was the largest recipient of Chinese investment along the new Silk Road. In 2021, trade turnover between Saudi Arabia and China amounted to $80 billion.

Saudi Arabia ranked 12th in the list of countries in terms of investment in the Chinese economy. Last year China bought 17 per cent of the kingdom’s imported oil. In March this year Saudi Arabia agreed to sell its oil to China using the Chinese yuan instead of the US dollar. This decision will have irreversible repercussions on the global financial market and the status of the dollar.

The global political and economic map is changing rapidly. In October Saudi Arabia renewed its interest in joining the Brics bloc, an interest first expressed last July.

Translated with (free version)

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