The Chinese president receives a warm welcome in Saudi Arabia and promises a “new era” in Sino-Arab relations



CNN

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave Chinese President Xi Jinping a lavish welcome in the capital, Riyadh, on Thursday, as the two countries head to a number of summits heralding a “milestone” in China’s relations with the Arab world.

And the official Saudi TV showed a grand party held for the Chinese leader, where he was received by Bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the Kingdom known as MBS, at Al-Yamamah Palace. Chinese and Saudi flags dotted the building, while members of the Saudi Royal Guard lined up with swords and played music.

The two leaders smiled warmly and looked at the photos, contrasting with the atmosphere of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia earlier in the year.

Shortly thereafter, China and Saudi Arabia signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement that includes a number of deals and memorandums of understanding, including hydrogen energy, coordination between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and with regard to direct investment, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. , without giving details.

Xi arrived in the capital, Riyadh, on Wednesday, where he was received by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, the governor of the Riyadh region, and Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, the foreign minister. Saudi military aircraft escorted the Chinese president’s plane, unfurling a purple carpet at his arrival and firing cannons.

It is widely seen that US President Joe Biden’s welcome was less glamorous. In July, the US president was received by the Emir of Mecca and the Saudi ambassador to the United States in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. Biden met Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, where they exchanged a buzz that grabbed global headlines and set what eventually became a deadpan visit.

Bin Salman receives the Chinese leader in Riyadh.

This week, Saudi and Chinese state media were keen to promote the close ties between their governments. Saudi state television replayed clips from previous meetings between Chinese and Saudi officials, narrating the intimate relationship between the two countries, which they say extends for more than eight decades.

In a signed article published by the Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh on Thursday, Xi said his visit to the kingdom this week “will usher in a new era in China’s relations with the Arab world, the Arab Gulf states and Saudi Arabia.”

“The Arab world is an important member of the developing world and a major force for upholding justice and international justice,” Xi wrote, adding, “The Arab people value independence, oppose external interference, stand up to power politics and tyranny, and always strive for progress.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's fist collides with US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Salman's palace in Jeddah in July.

In an article titled “Carrying forward our old friendship and jointly creating a better future,” Xi said China and Arab countries will “continue to raise the banner of non-interference in internal affairs, firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity, and jointly upholding justice and international justice.” , referring to US diplomacy, whose relations with the Saudis collapsed due to OPEC’s decision to cut crude oil supplies.

The Saudi energy minister also stressed that Saudi-Chinese relations “are witnessing a quantum leap” and that the kingdom “will remain a reliable and reliable partner of China” with regard to oil, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, on Wednesday, that the China-Arab countries summit “will be a milestone in the history of China-Arab relations,” and that “the state visit that President Xi will pay to Saudi Arabia will promote the comprehensive strategic relations between China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the partnership to a new level.” “.

On Wednesday, Saudi and Chinese companies signed 34 investment deals covering several sectors, including in the fields of green energy, information technology, cloud services, transportation, logistics, medical industries, housing, and construction.

No cash value of the deals was announced, but the Saudi Press Agency previously reported that the two countries were expected to sign deals worth more than $29 billion during a visit this week.

Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes amid strained relations between the two countries and Washington, which holds a number of grievances towards the two countries regarding oil production, human rights and other issues.

While the friendship between China and Saudi Arabia has blossomed over the decades, they seem to have grown closer to each other as both found themselves in precarious positions in relation to the United States.

The White House said it was “no surprise” that Xi would travel around the world and the Middle East. “We are aware of the influence that China is trying to cultivate around the world,” said John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the US National Security Council.

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