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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/10/22

China, Saudi Arabia cement ties with strategic deals including Huawei

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman Ben Abdulaziz Thursday signed a series of strategic deals, including one involving Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Xi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. China is the world's largest importer of crude oil, for which it is heavily reliant on Saudi Arabia. The agreements that both sides were to sign were valued at around $30bn, according to Saudi state media.

The deal over Huawei Technologies is related to cloud computing, data centres and building high-tech complexes in Saudi cities, according to Saudi officials.

US security officials have warned that equipment from Chinese brands such as Huawei could be used to interfere with fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks and collect sensitive information. Yet Huawei has taken part in building 5G networks in most Gulf states despite the US concerns.

After Xi's arrival on Wednesday, Saudi state media announced 34 investment agreements in sectors including green hydrogen, information technology, transport and construction. The official Saudi Press Agency did not provide details but said two-way trade totalled 304 billion Saudi riyals ($80bn) in 2021 and 103 billion Saudi riyals ($27bn) in the third quarter of 2022.

President Xi and King Salman agreed to hold meetings between the two countries' leaders every two years, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

Arab leaders also began to converge on the Saudi capital ahead of a summit with Xi, who will hold separate talks with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) before leaving on Friday, Al Jazeera reported.

Leaders convening in Riyadh include Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Tunisian President Kais Saied, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Sudan's de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch and Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati also confirmed their attendance.

From Beijing's perspective, Saudi Arabia is an extremely important source of energy that greatly matters to the future of China's economic growth.

"The Chinese need to know that Riyadh can remain a reliable producer," Dave DesRoches, an assistant professor at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera. "Particularly now when it looks as if Iran, which Beijing has been relying on for lots of its oil " might be ramping down its ability to export as people become more concerned about Iranian export of weapons to Russia."

Experts believed that China-Saudi relations play a crucial role in boosting the relations between China and Arab countries, serving as an example as South-South cooperation. As the only G20 member among Arab countries, Saudi Arabia has seen its regional influence grow, playing a leading role in the affairs of GCC as more Arab countries are realizing that compared to China that promotes peace and development in the region, the US instigated conflicts and divergences, imposes extra geopolitical conditions in its cooperation with Arab countries.

Abdulaziz O. Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Center in Saudi Arabia told the Global Times that China-Saudi Arabia relations is a good role model that can be expanded to different countries in the Middle East region, as the great relationship is based on mutual interests and non-intervention in the domestic issues from both sides.

"We will not interfere in the issues between the US and China. We will not take US' position when it comes to China. We think our relationship with China is extremely important, and extremely valuable," said Sager.

China and Saudi Arabia will reportedly sign a plan to harmonize the Kingdom's Vision 2030 with China's Belt and Road Initiative, according to people familiar with the matter.

"There is a lot of complementarities between BRI and the Saudi vision 2030," said Sager, noting this unleashes many opportunities for China and Saudi Arabia to have stronger ties. He expects the China-Saudi Arabia and China-Arab relations to move forward not only from an economic dimension, but to have a political dimension, saying the Arab countries are looking for more constructive engagement with China on regional issues that are of concern to them.

In the past, many Middle Eastern countries were seen as proxies of the West but are now trying to get rid of such identity by working on development on their own, seeking a balance in cooperation with major powers, Zhu Weilie, director of the Middle East Studies Institute at Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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