Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is fresh off a visit to Asia, with a special emphasis on the Middle Kingdom where Saudi Arabia signed multiple trade deals worth tens of billions of dollars. The bounty includes a $10 billion agreement for Saudi Aramco to help develop the coastal area near Panjin in China’s northeast rustbelt province of Liaoning where a new refinery is planned.
The Saudi national oil company Aramco has lately been seeking expansion outside of the kingdom and appears to be maneuvering to benefit from Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative. The deal follows the much more substantial $65bn in deals signed between the countries two years earlier and are part of MbS’ efforts to diversify beyond his borders. Xi and MbS also spoke about combating extremism and joint counter terror efforts — an issue that’s been met with increasingly critical coverage related to China’s well known Muslim Uighur detention camps, wrote Zero Hedge.
“China is a good friend and partner to Saudi Arabia,” President Xi Jinping told the crown prince in front of reporters.
“The special nature of our bilateral relationship reflects the efforts you have made,” added Xi, who has made stepping up China’s presence in the Middle East a key foreign policy objective, despite its traditional low-key role there, reported Reuters.
MBS responded, “In the hundreds, even thousands, of years, the interactions between the sides have been friendly. Over such a long period of exchanges with China, we have never experienced any problems with China,” he said.