Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a three-day visit, where he is expected to attend the China-Arab States Summit plus a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called this the largest and highest-level diplomatic event between China and the Arab world since the founding of the People's Republic of China, adding that it will become an epoch-making milestone in the history of China-Arab relations.
Early this month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a 19,000-word report on China-Arab Cooperation in a New Era stressing that Beijing was a strategic partner and sincere friend that would play a constructive role in the Middle East and avoid doing anything in its own geopolitical self-interest.
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said: Saudi Arabia will remain China's credible and reliable partner He said that the two countries would establish a regional center in Saudi Arabia for Chinese factories.
The minister added that relations between the two countries are witnessing a qualitative leap. China is the world’s largest crude oil importer. It relies heavily on Saudi oil, paying tens of billions of dollars to Riyadh every year.
The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said that the kingdom accounted for more than 20% of Chinese investment in the Arab world between 2005 and 2020. Saudi state media reported that the Chinese delegation is expected to sign deals with Riyadh worth US$ 30 billion.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that while Riyadh remains an important US ally, Washington is mindful of the influence that China is trying to grow around the world.
We believe that many of the things they're trying to pursue and the manner in which they're trying to pursue it are not conducive to preserving the international rules-based order, he stressed. Kirby added that Washington does not expect countries to choose between the US and China.