President Xi Jinping and Arab leaders pose for a group photo during the China-Arab summit in Riyadh on Friday. Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday touted close security and energy ties with Gulf nations during summit meetings in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.
On the third and final day of his visit, Xi attended summits of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a broader China-Arab leaders’ meeting. This is only Xi’s third journey outside China since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The discussions came one day after bilateral sit-downs with Saudi royals yielded a joint statement stressing “the importance of stability” in oil markets.
“China will continue to firmly support the GCC countries in maintaining their own security... and build a collective security framework for the Gulf,” Xi said at the start of the China-GCC summit.
Prince Mohammed Bin Salman receives Sheikh Tamim.
“China will continue to import large quantities of crude oil from GCC countries on an ongoing basis,” he said, also vowing to expand other areas of energy cooperation including liquefied natural gas imports.
Xi praised the GCC countries as they “actively sought political solutions to regional hotspots” and invited their astronauts to China’s new Tiangong space station.
Prince Mohammed shakes hands with Jinping during the China-Arab Summit. AFP
Xi also said China plans to build a joint China-GCC Nuclear Security Demonstration Center that will train 300 personnel on nuclear safety and technology.
“China will continue to import a large amount of crude oil from the GCC countries, expand imports of liquefied natural gas, strengthen the engineering services in oil and gas upstream development and the cooperation in storage, transportation and refining,” Xi said. He also called on the GCC to use yuan to settle transactions. Xi also called for nations to “strengthen exchanges among civilisations.”
“We need to jointly oppose Islamophobia, carry out cooperation in deradicalisation, and oppose linking terrorism with specific ethnic groups and specific religions,” he said.
Prince Mohammed Bin Salman greets President Xi Jinping, after the group photo in Riyadh on Friday. AP
Oil from Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 17 per cent of China’s imports last year, and last month Qatar announced a 27-year natural gas deal with China. Earlier on Friday, a joint Chinese-Saudi statement spoke of “focusing on emissions rather than sources” in tackling climate change.
46 BILATERAL DEALS
Forty-six bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding were announced on everything from housing to Chinese language teaching. Both sides are seeking economic and strategic benefits by deepening cooperation. However, few details were released despite a Saudi state media report on Thursday that about $30 billion in deals would be signed during Xi’s visit.
Riyadh and Beijing stressed “deepening relations within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and reaching new and promising horizons,” the statement said.
Prince Mohammed Bin Salman greets Omani Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said. AFP
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman addressed both summits on Friday, promising “continuing Arab-Chinese cooperation to serve our common goals and aspirations of our peoples.”
“The kingdom believes that hydrocarbon energy sources will remain an important resource to meet the needs of the world for the coming decades,” Prince Mohammed said.
Prince Mohammed made a point in his opening remarks, aired on state television, to applaud Qatar for its hosting of the World Cup. He also could be seen warmly greeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim before the meeting.
King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa arrives to participate in the China-Arab summit in Riyadh. Reuters
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict came up as Xi spoke with the Arab leaders, especially Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Xi said China remains committed to an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 boundaries of Israel. “The Palestine issue is vital to the peace and stability in the Middle East,” Xi said.
A Saudi woman speaks with a Chinese man while following the China-Arab Summit in Riyadh. Reuters
Earlier during the day, Xi held one-on-one meetings with Tunisian President Kais Saied, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani and Sheikh Tamim of Qatar.
Riyadh also voiced support for Beijing's "One China" policy on the issue of Taiwan. Xi invited King Salman to visit China, Saudi state television reported.Agencies
Saudi Arabia and China showcased deepening ties with a series of strategic deals on Thursday during a visit by President Xi Jinping, including one with tech giant Huawei.
Members of the Saudi Royal Guard riding Arabian horses and carrying Chinese and Saudi flags escorted Xi's car as it entered the royal palace in Riyadh, where Prince Mohammed greeted him with a warm smile.
The declaration welcomed Syria's readmission to the Arab League (AL), vowing to intensify pan-Arab efforts to help Syria tackle its crisis, Al Arabiya TV reported on Friday.
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