February 4, 2023

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China is the “strategic partner” of the Gulf countries. Xi Jinping signs 34 agreements with the Saudis. Oil, infrastructure and information technology in the key anti-US

It is the beginning of a “new era” for China and the Arab countries. At the end of his visit to Saudi Arabia, Xi Jinping We already look to the future. The king welcomed him Salman bin Abdulaziz And the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman With a red (or rather purple) carpet and cannon shots, in the four days he spent in Riyadh, the Chinese president presided over the signing of 34 commercial agreements An estimated value of $29.62 billion: Cooperation will be extended – already strong in the oil sector to renewable energy sourcesinformation technology, infrastructure and industry healthy.

A strategic partnership agreement was reached in line with the Saudi development strategy “Vision 2030” and Belt and Road Initiative Chinese, as well as a note with HuaweiI am in cloud computing and building digital solutions for Saudi cities. In 2022, Saudi Arabia stood up first destination to Chinese investment. A fact that cannot be taken for granted, given China’s traditional preference for Southeast Asia and Africa, the market has become more complex in recent years due to the high level of religion between partner countries.

The Middle East trip — only the third abroad since the start of the pandemic — illustrates how Xi wants to return to dictate global dynamics. This is confirmed by the leader’s participation in the new summit With the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and 22 countries of the League of Arab States. China’s interest in the Middle East and North Africa region responds to specific needs: to diversify energy resourcesAnd find safer markets for their investments and weaken the influence of the United States in the region.

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In addition to being Riyadh’s largest trading partner, China is also the world’s largest importer of Saudi crude With 1.77 million barrels per day, which is equivalent to 18% of the total purchases of the Asian giant. Preliminary agreements between Saudi Aramco and Shandong Energy Group are new oil supplies, but also technological cooperation in hydrogen production and carbon dioxide storage. A joint statement issued on Friday said Beijing “welcomes the Kingdom’s role as an advocate of balance and stability in global oil markets and as a major and reliable source of crude oil.”

it’s a energy issue But not only. Indeed, it is impossible not to understand the reference to the disagreement between OPEC + and the United States over oil production cuts. The renewed interest from the Asian giant in Saudi supplies is even more attractive given the discounted prices of Crude oil coming from RussiaWhich China considers a strategic partner to reject Washington’s pressure in the Indian and Pacific oceans. According to the announcement, Riyadh could reciprocate support for Xi by accepting Payments are in yuan Instead of dollars, the Chinese currency is now the fifth most traded currency internationally. Beijing now aims to make it an attractive option for all those countries in the crosshairs US sanctions.

This is it Energy security And the Geopolitics They contribute to justifying both the welcome of the hosts and the enthusiasm of the guests. The sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan and Biden’s “new pivot toward Asia” have alarmed historical allies in the Middle East, and they are increasingly convinced that “two is better than one.” China is not necessarily an alternative, but it could serve to offset US lagging in some specific sectors.

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last year transactions Between Saudi Arabia and China – driven by oil – overflow $87 billion. Almost three times what the kingdom traded with the United States. And although Washington is almost the largest arms sales partner 18 billion supplies From 2003 to 2021, China is catching up with the guarantee of devices that countries are reluctant to give up: most recently, Beijing sold armed drones to Riyadh for $4 billion. Just to get an idea between 2003 and 2021Export of war materials They kept under i $245 million. And while it does not know of any new agreements in this regard, the Saudi Press Agency spoke of “coordination in the field of defense,” citing the fight against terrorism and the common vision regarding the wars in Yemen and Ukraine.

According to the joint statement issued yesterday, the two countries “will continue to strongly support each other on core interests, and support each other in preserving their core interests.” Sovereignty and territorial integrity And the exercise of joint efforts to defend the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, the rules of international law and the basic principles of international relations.” Similar language was adopted at the end of Summit with the Arab League countries i– Explicit reference to relations with Taiwan and the Palestinian cause.

To economic synergy corresponds more clearly a Political and ideological compatibility. 17 Arab countries have expressed their support for Global Development Initiative (GDI), a framework launched by Beijing last year that promises “sustainable global development, but also “more equal and balanced global partnerships” and “promoting human rights through development.” So it is no longer just about economic growth and well-being. Especially when dealing with Global SouthChina aims to promote even new values ​​and world order reform. In Saudi Arabia, it penetrates an open door.

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Bin Salman He praised China’s efforts Fighting extremism. A veiled response to Western criticism over gross human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the Chinese region where many Muslim minorities live. Journalist killed Jamal Khashoggi The Crown Prince, in and of itself, isn’t exactly a reliable source. But the indication that support comes from the cradle of Islam. In Al-Riyadh newspaper, Xi described the Arab world as “a major force in supporting…Fairness and justice International.” Justice and Equity “With Chinese-Saudi Characteristics.”