Saudi Arabian King Salman signs billion-dollar deals in China

"Practical cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia has already made major achievements, and has huge potential".

Saudi Arabia is seeking to boost oil sales to China, the world's second-largest oil market, after losing market share to Russian Federation.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim said a new date for King Salman's trip to the Indian Ocean archipelago would be announced later.

Meanwhile, state-run Saudi Aramco has signed MOUs with five Japanese entities during a business forum held yesterday, coinciding with a visit by Saudi Arabia's King Salman this week.

Saudi companies also signed agreements with Chinese developers in areas including information technology and renewable energy. While two countries have cooperation in many fields like infrastructure and communication, the biggest part of all is energy.

- Saudi Aramco and Norinco Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop a refinery and chemical facilities in Panjin City.

China had long taken a backseat to disputes in the Middle East but especially with the United States' global diplomatic stance under President Donald Trump unclear, Xi started taking a new approach with steps that include hosting talks between the opposing parties in the Syrian conflict. But it has been trying to get more involved in efforts to end Syria's six-year-old civil war, where Riyadh supports rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad. He noted that Saudi-Chinese trade relationship has increased gradually over the years and the Kingdom has regained its position as the largest supplier of crude oil to China, citing data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

Next week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits China.

"This visit will push forward and continue to improve the quality of our relations and bear new fruit", said Xi who visited Saudi Arabia past year. Salman said he hoped China could play an even greater role in Middle East affairs, the ministry added.

  • Elsie Buchanan