Chinese expedition to the US vacuum in the Middle East: $29.6 billion deal with Saudi Arabia

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Chinese expedition to the US vacuum in the Middle East: $29.6 billion deal with Saudi Arabia

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia has become a harbinger of a new axis. Why does the Chinese Communist Party leadership, which has shown a quick warmth towards the Saud administration, which is going through a tense diplomatic process with the US, want to get closer to the region?

Chinese leader Xi’s visit to Riyadh was widely covered in the international press. The sumptuous welcome signaled that the two countries would not be holding an ordinary summit. High-level bilateral talks and far-reaching investment agreements are among the evidence that China-Saudi Arabia relations have reached a new peak

During the visit, Saudi and Chinese companies signed 34 investment agreements covering green energy, transportation, logistics, medical industries and construction. According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), these deals are worth $29.6 billion.

China is Saudi Arabia’s largest crude oil market, accounting for more than 25 percent of all Saudi crude oil exports in 2021.

CHINA’S REGIONAL INTERESTS

From Beijing’s perspective, Saudi Arabia is an extremely important source of energy for the future of China’s economic growth.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday. As sanctions against Russia intensify over the war in Ukraine, his country is said to be seeking to cement ties with a region vital for its energy resources.

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Beyond oil purchases, China is also known to be enthusiastic about Neom, Crown Prince Mohammed’s futuristic $500 billion city on the Red Sea. Chinese construction firms have been involved in many tenders in Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, especially in Dubai. In such a case, China may even be in agreement with the Saudi government on the infrastructure development wing of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Saudi officials have also reported signing agreements with Chinese technology company Huawei on cloud computing, data centers and other high-tech initiatives.

MUTUAL PRAISE AND EMPHASIS ON HZ. MUHAMMED EMPHASIZED

China and the Arab states “will continue to hold high the banner of non-interference in internal affairs and resolutely support each other in safeguarding sovereignty,” Xi said in an article titled “Carrying Forward Our Thousand-Year Friendship and Jointly Creating a Better Future.”

A newspaper column published by the Saudi Arabia-based Al Riyadh newspaper said that “the exchange between China and the Arab states dates back more than 2,000 years”. The article went on to quote the Prophet Muhammad’s hadith, “Even if knowledge is in China, go and get it.” hadith was quoted.

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“China and Saudi Arabia are deepening ties,” the Global Times newspaper, a publication of the Chinese Communist Party, said.

Chinese expedition to the US vacuum in the Middle East: $29.6 billion deal with Saudi Arabia

WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IN DETERIORATING RELATIONS WITH THE USA

Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia after six years comes at a time of significant deterioration in US relations with Riyadh over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and oil production.

As tensions with the US escalate, Saudi Arabia sees China as an important alternative.

Recently, Abdul al-Shlaan, a member of the Saudi royal family and grandson of King Abdul Aziz, released a video threatening the United States over OPEC+ countries’ oil production decision. “We are ready to wage jihad and martyrdom for anyone who challenges the existence of this kingdom,” Shalaan said.

WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IN DETERIORATING RELATIONS WITH THE USA

Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia after six years comes at a time of significant deterioration in US relations with Riyadh over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and oil production.

As tensions with the US escalate, Saudi Arabia sees China as an important alternative.

Recently, Abdul al-Shlaan, a member of the Saudi royal family and grandson of King Abdul Aziz, released a video threatening the United States over OPEC+ countries’ oil production decision. “We are ready to wage jihad and martyrdom for anyone who challenges the existence of this kingdom,” Shalaan said.

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Shortly before this, in a meeting with the President of South Africa, Crown Prince Salman had expressed interest in joining the Chinese-led BRICS.

The deepening rift caught China’s attention and triggered a reassessment of Sino-Saudi relations.

Prior to the trip, Xi wrote that “the Arab people value independence, oppose foreign interference, and stand against power politics and tyranny”, indicating that China clearly intends to compete with the US for influence in the region or fill the “vacuum” left by the US.

A TURNING POINT FOR CHINA-IRAN RELATIONS?

The 25-year strategic plan signed by China with Iran in March 2021, which seeks to expand its search for energy and markets in the Middle East, may have an impact. Experts agree that Iran will not welcome the deal, which is largely filled with energy topics. Although Iran continued exploratory talks with the Saudi government in early 2016, they have yet to find common ground diplomatically.

Experts say it would not be surprising if the US and Iran carefully monitor Sino-Saudi relations and pursue independent diplomatic actions with a common outcome.

 

FİKRİKADİM

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