RIYADH (Realist English). On December 7, Chinese President Xi Jinping is arriving in Riyadh for a three-day visit, where he will meet with King Salman.
This is Xi’s third trip abroad since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic and the first trip to Saudi Arabia since 2016. The visit will take place at the invitation of the Saudi monarch in order to “strengthen the historical ties and strategic partnership between the two countries,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reports.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Beijing in 2019, where he held talks on energy deals and regional economic agreements related to Beijing’s One Belt, One Road initiative.
According to SPA, agreements worth $29.26 billion will be signed during the bilateral summit.
“As the largest importer of Saudi oil, China is a critical partner, and military relations are actively developing,” said a close to the Saudi government analyst Ali Shihabi, adding that he expects “a number of agreements to be signed.”
According to Shihabi, the trip itself “is not directed against the United States.”
Xi will also attend the first Sino-Arab summit and the China-Gulf Summit, which will be held on December 9 in Riyadh.
“Crude is likely to be on the agenda higher than it was during the visit of [US President Joseph] Biden. These are the two most important players in the oil market — Saudi Arabia on the supply side and China on the demand side,” Thorbjorn Saltvedt, an expert in risk analysis, said in an interview with Al Jazeera.
The Chinese leader’s trip coincided with increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States over energy policy, regional security and human rights. The last blow to the long-standing partnership with Washington was dealt in October, when OPEC + agreed to cut production by two million barrels per day, which, according to the White House, was equivalent to the support of the Russian Federation.
Earlier, OPEC+ decided to keep these cuts.