Saudi Arabia and China… Long History, Bright Future Prospects

Riyadh, Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of China are witnessing a distinguished and solid development at a steady pace towards greater cooperation and mutual understanding in various fields for the ben...

Riyadh, Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of China are witnessing a distinguished and solid development at a steady pace towards greater cooperation and mutual understanding in various fields for the benefit of the two friendly countries and peoples.

Close relations between the two countries were initiated 80 years ago, encompassing various aspects of cooperation and development in the form of simple trade relations and the reception of Chinese pilgrims, up to their official form in 1990 after the two countries agreed to establish full diplomatic relations between them, exchange ambassadors and organize meetings at the political, economic, youth and other levels.

The keenness of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince – to develop bilateral relations with the Chinese side is part of its strategic plans to boost its bilateral relations and partnerships with all influential countries and international powers and to establish balanced relations with them to serve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's objectives and contribute to protecting its interests.

In January 2016, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received His Excellency President Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, and held a meeting at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, during which he stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's friendly relations with China have grown steadily over the previous 25 years, noting that the two countries were seeking to realize stability and promote peace and security in the world.

During the visit, 14 agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed between the governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China, including a memorandum to boost cooperation on the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21 Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, and cooperation in productive capacity, which were signed by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.

The Saudi-Chinese relations were significantly enhanced in Dhu Al-Qadah, 1437 AH, following the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to the People's Republic of China upon directives by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in response to the invitation of the Chinese government, where His Royal Highness met with President Xi Jinping, former Chinese vice prime minister Zhang Gaoli and other officials.

In a new and unique scientific achievement at the level of the region and the Islamic world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the People's Republic of China in a rare journey to explore the invisible side of the moon closely, as part of its growing interest in the exploration of space.

This cooperation between Riyadh and Beijing was in implementation of a memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries during the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to China on March 16, 2017, which established grounds for cooperation with the China National Space Administration to explore the moon.

China supports the Middle East Green Initiative launched by HRH the Crown Prince, and also welcomed Saudi Arabia's accession to the Global Development Initiative proposed by the Chinese President to steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth.

China has been the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's first trading partner for the past 5 years, ranking as the first destination for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's exports and imports since 2018, where the trade volume reached SAR309 billion in 2021, marking an increase of 39% from 2020, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's total exports to China amounted to SAR192 billion, including non-oil exports worth SAR41 billion.

The Saudi investments in China reached SAR8.6 billion and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked 12th among the investing countries in China as of the end of 2019. On the other hand, Chinese investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia totaled SAR29 billion by the end of 2021.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also seeks to build a strategic partnership that supports trade and investment with the Chinese side, and makes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia China's first reliable strategic partner in the region, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has accounted for more than 20.3% of China's investment in the Arab world between 2005 and 2020 amounting to $196.9 billion, making it the biggest Arab country to receive Chinese investments during that period at around $39.9 billion.

Relations between the two countries were not limited to those areas, but also saw a broader aspect, particularly in cultural exchange, especially after the Saudi Ministry of Culture in 2019 announced the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Award for Cultural Cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China, which reflects the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's keenness to boost cultural and scientific relations. The award aims to promote the Arabic language and Arab and creative arts, promote mutual understanding and cultural exchange between Saudi and Chinese cultures, and serve the joint objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 and China's Belt and Road Initiative at the cultural level.

Within the framework of cooperation in education between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of China, a number of Saudi universities and schools started teaching Chinese language, and the Arabic language is also being taught in 44 Chinese universities.

The upcoming visit of the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, December 7-9, 2022, represents keenness of the leaderships of the two countries to strengthen bilateral relations and their strategic partnership and to invest their political and economic potential in serving their common interests.

During the visit of the Chinese President, three summits will be held: (Saudi-Chinese) summit, (Riyadh Gulf-China Summit for Cooperation and Development), and (Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development), which reflects the importance of these summits and the regional and international attention they enjoy.

Source: Saudi Press Agency