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China’s Xi receives warm welcome in Saudi Arabia, promises ‘new era’ in China-Arab relations

 




CNN

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

Saudi state television showed a grand ceremony held for the Chinese leader, as bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler known as MBS, received him at Al-Yamamah Palace. Chinese and Saudi flags dotted the grounds as members of the Saudi royal guard lined up with swords and played music.

The two leaders smiled warmly and looked at photos, a contrast to the atmosphere of US President Joe Bidens’ visit to Saudi Arabia earlier in the year.

Shortly after, China and Saudi Arabia signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement which includes a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding, including on hydrogen energy, coordination between the kingdoms Vision 2030 and Chinas Belt and Road Initiative, and regarding direct investment, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, without providing details.

Xi landed in the capital Riyadh on Wednesday, where he was received by Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, governor of the Riyadh region, and Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, foreign minister. Saudi military jets accompanied the Chinese president’s plane, a purple carpet was rolled out as it arrived and cannon shots were fired.

Hosting US President Joe Bidens is widely seen as less glamorous. The American president was received in July by the governor of Mecca and the Saudi ambassador to the United States in the port city of Jeddah, on the Red Sea. Biden met MBS in Jeddah, where they exchanged a punch that made global headlines and defined what ultimately became a chilling visit.

The Chinese president's official welcoming ceremony at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Thursday.

Bin Salman welcomes the Chinese leader to Riyadh.

Saudi and Chinese state media this week were keen to promote the close ties shared by their governments. Saudi state television aired clips of past meetings between Chinese and Saudi officials, recounting the warm relationship between the two countries, which they say spans more than eight decades.

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

The Arab world is an important member of the developing world and a key force in upholding international fairness and justice, Xi wrote, adding that the Arab people value independence, oppose outside interference , opposes power politics and authoritarianism, and always seeks to make progress.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman punches US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Al Salman Palace, Jeddah in July.

In the article titled Carrying forward our millennial friendship and jointly creating a better future, Xi said that China and the Arab states will continue to hold high the banner of non-interference in internal affairs, firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity. , and jointly uphold international fairness and justice, in a nod to US diplomacy, whose ties with the Saudis crumbled following OPEC’s decision to cut crude oil supplies.

The Saudi energy minister also stressed that Saudi-Chinese relations are experiencing a qualitative leap and that the kingdom will remain a credible and reliable oil partner of China, SPA reported.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the China-Arab Summit will be a historic milestone in the history of China-Arab relations, and President Xi’s state visit to Saudi Arabia will elevate the China-Saudi comprehensive strategic partnership. Arabia to a new height.

On Wednesday, Saudi and Chinese companies signed 34 investment deals spanning multiple sectors, SPA reported, including green energy, information technology, cloud services, transportation, logistics , medical, housing and construction industries.

No monetary value has been announced for the deals, but SPA previously said the two countries are expected to sign deals worth more than $29 billion during this week’s visit.

Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes amid frayed ties between the two countries and Washington, which harbors a number of grievances against the two states over 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 as both find themselves in precarious positions vis-à-vis the United States.

The White House said it was no surprise that Xi was traveling around the world and in the Middle East. We were aware of the influence China is trying to develop in the world, said John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the United States National Security Council.

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