Chinese President Xi Jinping began Wednesday a state visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, where he was first met Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar and several Saudi officials.
Beijing said Xi's visit is China's "most important and largest diplomatic activity" with Arab countries.
Upon his arrival, the Chinese President expressed his pleasure to revisit the Kingdom after six years and attending the first China-Arab Summit and the first China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit.
Upon his arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Xi said that he was "pleased to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, my sincere greetings and best wishes to the government and people of the friendly Kingdom."
"China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have had a close relationship of friendship, partnership, and fraternity over the past 32 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between them," said Xi.
He asserted that the two sides continued to exchange understanding and support and constantly consolidated their strategic mutual trust.
"The practical cooperation between them has achieved fruitful outcomes in all fields. The two sides maintain close communication and coordination concerning international and regional affairs."
The President added: "It is worth mentioning in particular that after the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnership relations between the two countries in 2016, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and I are leading the bilateral relations to achieve great development, which has benefited the two peoples and contributed strongly to promoting peace, stability, prosperity, and development in the region."
He pointed out that during the visit, he would hold in-depth discussions with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common concern and work together to plan the development of Chinese-Saudi ties.
"I look forward to attending the first China-Arab Summit and the first China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit, to work with the leaders of the Arab countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to advance the Chinese-Arab relations and Chinese-GCC relations to a new level," the President concluded.
- Strategic relations between Riyadh and Beijing
For his part, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated that the upcoming summits affirm the determination of Saudi Arabia, China, and Gulf and Arab countries to enhance joint action and develop distinguished strategic relations to achieve more growth and prosperity.
The Foreign Minister told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the relations between the Kingdom and China are strategic and intimate in light of the developments and changes in the international arena.
He noted that "the relations between the two countries are characterized by friendship, mutual trust, cooperation, and continuous coordination," adding that the contribution of the high-level Saudi-Chinese joint committee further bolsters ties between the two countries.
Prince Faisal explained that the economic relations between the Kingdom and China are progressing rapidly in light of Vision 2030 and China's Belt and Road Initiative, which offer promising opportunities for cooperation, mutual benefit, and sustainable development.
He noted that China ranks first as Saudi Arabia's trading partner and a destination for Saudi exports and imports since 2018, pointing out that intra-trade saw a 39 percent increase in 2021 to reach SR309 billion.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is looking forward to working with China and Arab countries through the three summits to boost cooperation in the political, economic, social, and development fields to achieve the aspirations of the nations and peoples for better security and stability.
For her part, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that President Jinping would attend the inaugural Chinese-Arab summit, stressing that it would be the first and largest diplomatic event between Beijing and the Arab world since the founding of China.
The spokeswoman stated: "It will be an epoch-making milestone in the history of China-Arab relations."