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China’s Jinping Promises Security, Energy Cooperation To Gulf Nations


Xi Jinping promises security, energy cooperation with Gulf countries

This is only Xi’s third trip outside of China since the coronavirus pandemic began. (File)

Riyadh:

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday touted close security and energy ties with Gulf states during summit meetings in Saudi Arabia that have highlighted tensions with Washington.

On the third and final day of his visit, Xi Jinping attended summits of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and a broader meeting of Chinese leaders. -Arabic.

This is only Xi’s third trip outside of China since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The discussions come a day after bilateral talks with the Saudi royal family resulted in a joint statement stressing the “importance of stability” in the oil market – a point of disagreement with the United States. . Washington has urged the Saudis to increase production.

“China will continue to strongly support the GCC countries in maintaining their own security… and building a collective security framework for the Gulf,” Xi said at the start of the summit. China-GCC peak.

“China will continue to import large amounts of crude oil from GCC countries,” he said, pledging to expand other areas of energy cooperation including importing liquefied natural gas.

Oil from Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 17% of China’s imports last year, and last month Qatar announced a 27-year natural gas deal with China.

Earlier on Friday, a joint statement between China and Saudi Arabia spoke of “focusing on emissions rather than sources” in tackling climate change, an approach advocated by the United Nations. resource-rich Gulf monarchy.

Forty-six bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding have been published on everything from housing to teaching Chinese. Both sides are seeking economic and strategic benefits by increasing cooperation.

However, some details have been revealed despite a Saudi state media report on Thursday that about $30 billion in deals will be signed during Xi’s visit.

Riyadh and Beijing emphasized “deepening relations within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and moving towards promising new horizons,” the statement said.

Xi’s visit comes amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States, their longtime partner and security guarantor, over oil production, human rights issues and regional security.

It follows US President Joe Biden’s trip to Jeddah in July, ahead of the midterm elections, when he failed to convince the Saudis to pump more oil to calm prices.

– The ‘prestigious’ sale –

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 37-year-old de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, spoke at both summits on Friday, promising “continued cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China to serve the purposes of Saudi Arabia”. common goals and aspirations of our people”.

Gulf states, Washington’s strategic partners, are forging ties with China as part of a turn East involving diversifying their fossil fuel-dependent economies.

At the same time, China, hit hard by the Covid shutdowns, is trying to revive its economy and expand its sphere of influence, especially through its Belt and Road Initiative, funding infrastructure projects around the world.

Officials provided few details on the agenda for Friday’s talks, but one potential area of ​​focus is the China-GCC free trade agreement being discussed for nearly two years. decade.

Closing those talks would be “a matter of credibility for Beijing,” said Robert Mogielnicki of the Institute of Arab Gulf States in Washington.

It is not simple for the GCC countries, which appear to be more invested in promoting bilateral relations and are engaged in varying degrees of regional economic competition with member states. their neighbors.”

A breakthrough in the trade agreement could help Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s largest economy, diversify its economy in line with the Vision 2030 reform agenda backed by Prince Mohammed.

Beijing’s Foreign Ministry described Xi’s trip as “the largest-scale diplomatic activity between China and the Arab world” since the People’s Republic of China was founded.

The visit was criticized by the White House, which warned of “the influence that China is trying to develop around the world”.

Washington calls Beijing’s goals “not conducive to maintaining the rules-based international order”.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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