Xi jinping in Saudi Arabia: oil, "New Silk Roads" and strategic cooperation on the menu of the visit

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, in 2016 © AFP file photo

Text by: Stéphane Lagarde Follow

2 mins

The Chinese president expected in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Xi Jinping is starting a three-day trip to the Saudi kingdom where, in addition to the bilateral summit, he is expected to meet leaders from 14 Arab and Gulf countries.

A visit that risks irritating the United States.


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from our correspondent in Beijing,

This could have been Xi Jinping's first post-pandemic exit from China, according

to press leaks

 last spring.

The invitation was issued by Saudi Crown Prince

Mohammed bin Salman

 at a time of

heightened tensions between Washington and Riyadh.

 In the end, the trip did not take place, but the tensions between the oil monarchy and the United States did not disappear, quite the contrary.

Washington accusing Riyadh of indirectly financing Russia

in its war against Ukraine, by maintaining the price of oil at a high level, notes AFP. 

First customer of Saudi oil

In this context, Xi arrives in Arabia as the kingdom's first customer: ¼ of Saudi crude exports are destined for China.

Energy and diplomacy: the Chinese president is strengthening his ties with the main oil supplier countries, in a market that has become unpredictable since the war in Ukraine.

He also solidifies the global strategic partnership established during his

previous visit six years ago


This trip could also serve as a springboard for an expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the region, underlines the

South China Morning Post,

 precisely by taking advantage of the vacuum created by the turbulence between the Gulf countries and the White House.

Strategic and commercial opportunity

Saudi Arabia and China could sign more than twenty agreements for a value of 110 billion riyals (nearly 28 billion euros) according

to observers.

 The key is in particular the coordination of the

Saudi Vision 2030


Belt and Road

projects - the New Chinese Silk Roads -.

Also to listen

: what impact has the war in Ukraine had on the "new silk roads"?


Chinese companies could be awarded contracts in Neom, a futuristic city in full construction, particularly in the field of surveillance technologies

,” notes

Le Temps


An extension of Sino-Saudi relations, however, limited in terms of security.

Beijing cannot offer Riyadh the same military guarantees as Washington.

Iran remains China's main ally in the region.

To read also

: Iran's strengthened partnership with China to circumvent sanctions


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  • China

  • Saudi Arabia

  • Xi Jinping