The Chinese President meets Mohammed bin Salman before the summit with Arab leaders | Energy News

Saudi Arabia and China are expected to sign deals worth about $30 billion ahead of a summit with Arab leaders.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received Chinese President Xi Jinping in Riyadh as part of a visit expected to boost political and economic ties.

Xi was received by Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday at Al Yamama Palace, where the de facto ruler of the world’s largest oil exporter is expected to sign agreements worth about $30 billion, according to Saudi state media.

The two leaders stood side by side while a brass band played their national anthems, then chatted as they walked to the palace, the official residence of the king and the seat of the royal court.

After Xi’s arrival on Wednesday, with formation planes hovering overhead, Saudi state media announced 34 investment agreements in sectors including green hydrogen, information technology, transportation and construction.

The official Saudi Press Agency did not provide details but said total intra-regional trade reached 304 billion Saudi riyals ($80 billion) in 2021 and 103 billion Saudi riyals ($27 billion) in the third quarter of 2022.

Another 20 deals worth 110 billion riyals ($29.3 billion) are scheduled to be signed on Thursday, state news agency Al-Ekhbariya said.

Arab leaders also began rapprochement in the Saudi capital ahead of a summit with Xi, who will hold separate talks with the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council before his departure on Friday.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Tunisian President Kais Saied, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan were all flying Thursday.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shiaa al-Sudani, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannush and Lebanese interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati also confirmed their presence.

(The island)

The growth of Chinese influence

This week, China’s foreign ministry described Xi’s trip — his third overseas trip since the COVID pandemic — as “the largest large-scale diplomatic activity between China and the Arab world” since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

China, the largest consumer of Saudi oil, is seeking to shore up its coronavirus-hit economy and strengthen its ties with a region that has long relied on the United States for military protection.

The Saudis are pushing to diversify their economic and political alliances at a time when relations with their long-term American allies appear strained by disagreements over energy policy, US security guarantees and human rights.

Xi’s visit follows that of US President Joe Biden in July when he greeted Mohammed bin Salman with a jab at the start of a failed attempt to persuade the Saudis to increase oil production.

The Saudi crown prince sees China as an important partner in the comprehensive Vision 2030 agenda and seeks to engage Chinese companies in ambitious mega projects aimed at diversifying the economy away from fossil fuels.

Major projects include the futuristic $500 billion city of NEOM.

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih told Saudi state media that this week’s visit “will contribute to raising the pace of economic and investment cooperation between the two countries,” as it offers Chinese companies and investors “reasonable returns.”

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