In the absence of the US administration, Saudi Arabia awaits the “Davos in the desert” conference

Three Chinese summits will soon be held in Saudi Arabia, the first with the host country, the second in the Gulf, and the third at the Arab level, according to what Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan announced in ‘ an indication of the growing relations between the two countries in conjunction with the strained relations of Riyadh with the United States.

This summit is scheduled to precede an upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Kingdom, his first since the one he made to Saudi Arabia in 2016.

Despite the Saudi minister’s assurances, the Chinese embassy in Saudi Arabia did not comment on AFP’s query about the visit, while the Chinese foreign ministry said it had no “information to provide” in this regard. connection not.

In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Riyadh, then Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz returned the visit in 2017, accompanied by a delegation of 1,000 people. In 2019, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks with Xi in Beijing, during which they signed an oil deal worth $10 billion.

And Saudi political analyst Mubarak Al-Ati claims that “the Saudi-Chinese summit has been scheduled since the king’s visit to China and confirmed after the crown prince’s visit to China.”

In an interview with Al-Hurra, Al-Ati reveals the expected timing of Xi’s visit and the expected summit that will follow, noting: “As for the Chinese president’s visit, it will be at the end of this year, but the timing has not yet been definitively established.”

Al-Ati continues that “the Gulf-China summit has also been agreed and a free trade agreement between the Gulf states and China will be signed… As for the Arab-China summit, it is still under discussion and coordination, and it may soon be announced.”

Al-Ati notes that energy and economic exchange issues will be at the top of the agenda of Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the search for more cooperation between the two countries in these areas, given that China is the number one importer of Saudi oil.

And whether the visit is related to the recent tension in Saudi-American relations, the Saudi analyst claims that the visit “was not a result of the moment or the result of any other international calculations, and its date was for ‘ a long time fixed.”

Washington and Riyadh have been at loggerheads since OPEC+ decided this month to cut production, although the administration of US President Joe Biden tried to delay this decision for a month after the mid-term elections in the United States.

The relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia has been strained since Biden came to power, who during his election campaign promised to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, accusing it of killing the children of Yemen has.

With US-Saudi relations at a low ebb, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has turned to strengthening relations with Russia and China, although the kingdom still enjoys close security ties with Washington.

China relies on the volatile Middle East for its oil needs and is the world’s second largest economy after the United States.

But Al-Ati states that “Saudi Arabia believes that establishing distinguished relations with any international powers will never come at the expense of its relations with the United States, which are very important and strategic relations spanning eight decades.”

He added that “Saudi Arabia is eager to maintain these relations regardless of the ruling party in the White House,” noting that the Saudis “realize the importance of developing relations with a great power like the United States maintain and support. address any apathy or disagreements that may arise.”

Al-Ati says that “differences exist recently and the differences are increasing, but this does not mean that Saudi Arabia will exaggerate its relations with Washington.”

Al-Ati rejects the idea that the Saudi-Chinese rapprochement has antagonized the United States or any other country, “but it is proof of the strength and sovereignty of the Saudi decision and that it can have balanced relations with all international powers such as . Russia, China, India and the United States.”

For his part, Hussein Abdul-Hussein, a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, agrees with this proposal and believes that “the announced summit does not fall in the door of the annoyance of the United States.”

Abdul-Hussein told Al-Hurra that “there are signs that the crisis is not as bad as it seemed in the early days, especially after the United States praised Saudi steps regarding Ukraine, against Russia at the United Nations voted and provided aid to Ukraine.”

Abdul Hussein points out that “the crisis will not get worse, and the Saudi-Chinese summit will not be part of the escalation,” noting that “the crisis is on its way to a solution, even behind closed doors and by undeclared diplomatic means.”

Hussein disagrees with the view that Saudi Arabia is trying to replace the United States with China, claiming that “so far, with the exception of Saudi energy sales to China, the volume of Chinese investments in Saudi Arabia is almost non-existent ​​​​​​​not despite talk of military and economic cooperation between the two countries.”

“Saudi Arabia is still completely and utterly dependent on American technology, whether in the areas of defense, infrastructure, water desalination technology and other important issues,” says Abdul Hussein.

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