Chinese leader Xi Jinping is visiting Saudi Arabia this week for the first time in nearly seven years, during which he signed a comprehensive strategic partnership with the world’s largest oil exporter and met leaders from across the Middle East.
The visit is a sign that China and the Gulf region are deepening their economic relations at a time when US-Saudi ties have crumbled over OPEC’s decision to slash crude oil supply. As Xi wrote in an article published in Saudi media, the trip was intended to strengthen China’s relations with the Arab world.
The partnership agreement signed by the two sides includes a number of deals and memoranda of understanding, such as on hydrogen energy and enhancing coordination between the kingdom’s Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA). It did not provide specific details.
China is Saudi Arabia’s biggest trading partner and a source of growing investment. It’s also the world’s biggest buyer of oil. Saudi Arabia is China’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and the top global supplier of crude oil.