Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, for a two-day official visit at the invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The Saudi business sector in particular, and the Gulf and Arab countries in general, are looking forward to the visit to review prospects for expanding economic, trade and investment cooperation with China.
The program will include the Riyadh-Gulf-Chinese Summit for Cooperation and Development, and the Riyadh-Chinese Arab Summit for Cooperation and Development, with the participation of leaders of the GCC and Arab countries.
As international attention turns to the Saudi capital, which is hosting the first qualitative summit amid extremely complex geopolitical conditions, Chen Weiqing, the Chinese ambassador to the Kingdom, stressed that Beijing was ready to deploy joint efforts with Riyadh, to continue deepening relations towards a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Experts told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two summits would strengthen the economic, trade and investment partnership between Saudi Arabia and China in particular, and between China and the Arab countries in general.
They noted that the Saudi-Chinese joint cooperation strategy would open economic prospects to face global challenges and the geopolitical conditions and polarizations produced by the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Dr. Abdulaziz bin Othman bin Saqr, head of the Gulf Research Center, underlined the importance of the Saudi-Chinese relations, pointing to the increase in trade exchange and the growth of cooperation in various fields.
“The giant qualitative leap for Saudi-Chinese relations came after the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, to China in 2017. One of the yields of this visit was the signing of cooperation agreements worth $65 billion,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Consequently, the volume of trade exchange between Riyadh and Beijing jumped to more than $67 billion last year,” he noted.
The importance of economic relations between Saudi Arabia and China, according to Bin Saqr, lies in the political and economic significance of the two countries.
He said that both were members of the Group of Twenty - the world’s richest states – in addition to China being the first economic partner of the Kingdom, and the second largest economy after the United States.
The head of the Gulf Research Center stressed that cooperation between Riyadh and Beijing under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 would achieve expansion of the economic base, the diversification of income sources, and an increase in the private sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product.
On the political level, Bin Saqr pointed to a Gulf-Chinese consensus on the need to alleviate global tension.
For his part, Fadel bin Saad Al-Buainain, member of the Saudi Shura Council, affirmed that the visit of the Chinese president to the Kingdom would contribute to strengthening the economic, investment and trade partnership between the two countries.
The Saudi-Chinese summit paves the way for closer economic relations between the East and the West, according to a strategic perspective that would make the Middle East region more secure and stable, he remarked.