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Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Riyadh in early December for a highly publicized state visit upon the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. During his trip, Xi also attended two summits with Gulf and Arab leaders.
The visit succeeded in introducing the Kingdom into China’s inner circle of allies. It also helped engender the trust of the leaderships of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states toward Xi, particularly through a joint statement that recognized their shared interests.
Beijing has so far avoided taking any active security role in West Asia, unlike its global rival Washington. But its recent efforts are likely to increase China’s relevance in the region across an array of other sectors.
Xi’s trip has acted to initiate a closer working relationship between Beijing and Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is the largest Gulf Arab state and will be an important node of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a Chinese-led infrastructure project connecting Asia to Europe. China has had a comprehensive strategic partnership with the Kingdom since 2016, but the bilateral relationship is now likely to grow further.
During Xi’s state visit, China finalized over 40 deals with Saudi Arabia covering the climate, technology, and energy sectors. Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih stated that the accords will “contribute to raising the pace of economic and investment...
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