Saudi Crown Prince Hosts Summit With China’s Xi Jinping, Gulf Leaders


Arab countries will seek to improve cooperation with China and look forward to a new phase of partnership, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Friday at the Arab-China summit held in Riyadh.

“The Kingdom is working on enhancing cooperation [with China] to serve international stability,” the crown prince said, in front of Arab leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping who was on a three-day official visit to the Kingdom.

President Xi also said the summit would “lead to a brighter future,” adding that China sought “comprehensive cooperation” with Arab states to serve Chinese-Arab mutual interests.

Xi met Gulf leaders at the summit after earlier signing a series of agreements with Saudi Arabia.

The leader of the world’s second biggest economy sat down with regional rulers on the third and final day of his trip, only his third journey outside China since the coronavirus pandemic began.

State television showed leaders from the six-country, resource-rich Gulf Cooperation Council – including the Qatari ruler and Bahraini king – arriving at the conference venue in Riyadh on Friday.

“Gulf countries and China can achieve economic and industrial integration,’ Xi told Gulf leaders gathered in Riyadh, and noted that the Gulf Cooperation Council succeeded in overcoming global challenges.

Xi also committed China’s unwavering support for the Gulf countries’ security and assured that the Asian giant will continue to import oil in large quantities from the region.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier addressed the gathering, noting that the summit reflected the common desire to strengthen Gulf-Chinese cooperation.

The Gulf countries are bolstering ties with China as part of part of a strategy diversifying their fossil fuel-reliant economies.

Officials have provided few details about Friday’s agenda, but one potential area is a China-GCC free trade agreement that has been under discussion for nearly two decades.

“China will want to draw the lengthy negotiations to a close, as FTAs with major trading blocs is a matter of prestige for Beijing,” said Robert Mogielnicki of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his earlier noted that the group “discussed the establishment of a Gulf-Chinese free trade zone.”

A breakthrough on the trade pact could help Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s biggest economy, diversify its economy in line with the Vision 2030 reform agenda championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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