Riyadh, 8 December 2022 (TDI): President Xi Jinping arrived in Saudi Arabia to participate in the first China-Arab summit and the China-GCC summit in Riyadh.

The President arrived at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on his 3-day visit. He was invited by the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; he will be in Saudi Arabia from December 7 to December 10.

China claims President Xi’s visit is the “most significant and greatest diplomatic action” of China with Arab countries.

Chinese President’s speech on arrival

The Chinese President was happy to attend the first China-Arab Summit and the first China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit after a six-year hiatus and to be back in the Kingdom.

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Xi Jinping welcomed and expressed his pleasure to the government and people of Saudi Arabia on behalf of his government and people.

He said since the two states’ diplomatic ties were established 32 years ago, China and Saudi Arabia have maintained a close friendship, partnership, and brotherhood.

He claimed that understanding and support were still being exchanged between the two states and that their strategic mutual trust was still being built.

The two parties keep in close contact and coordination regarding global and regional issues, which has produced positive results in all areas.

The President emphasized the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnership relations between the two states in 2016, in particular.

He went on to say that he and King Salman are advancing bilateral ties to a considerable level of advancement that has benefited both parties and significantly aided in promoting peace, stability, prosperity, and development in the area.

He said he would have extensive discussions with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the visit.

Both sides will focus on bilateral relations and global and regional problems of shared interest and collaborate on developing Chinese-Saudi ties.

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While concluding his remarks, he said, “I look forward to attending the first China-Arab Summit and the first China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit, to work with the leaders of the Arab countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to advance the Chinese-Arab relations and Chinese-GCC relations to a new level.”

Saudi Foreign Minister’s words

The Chinese, Gulf, and Arab countries (including Saudi Arabia) are resolved to strengthen collaboration and establish prestigious strategic alliances in order to achieve progress and prosperity, according to Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia.

The foreign minister urged maintaining the importance and closeness of the Kingdom’s relations with China in light of the changes and developments taking place on the global stage.

The presence of the high-level Saudi-Chinese joint committee fosters even closer ties between the two countries.

He stated that friendship, trust, cooperation, and constant coordination characterize the relationships between the two nations.

According to Prince Faisal, the Kingdom’s and China’s economic relationships are developing quickly in light of Vision 2030 and the Belt and Road Initiative, which present promising chances for collaboration, mutual gain, and sustainable development.

He pointed out that, as of 2018, China has been Saudi Arabia’s top trading partner and the country to which Saudi exports and imports are sent, and that in 2021, intra-trade increased by 39% to reach SR309 billion.

In order to advance cooperation in the political, economic, social, and development spheres and fulfill the aspirations of the nations and peoples for greater security and stability, he emphasized that Saudi Arabia is looking forward to cooperating with China and Arab nations through the three summits.

Chinese Foreign Minister’s comments

While announcing the visit of President Jinping to the Chinese-Arab summit,  Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, emphasized that it will be the first and most significant diplomatic meeting between Beijing and the Arab world since the creation of China.

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Chinese President at China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (2018)

In July 2018, the eighth ministerial conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum’s opening ceremony was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

During his speech at the Forum, the president declared that China and the Arab nations have decided to form a Sino-Arab future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and shared development.

Xi referred to the Arab nations as China’s natural partners in the Belt and Road initiative, saying that cooperation had energized all facets of Sino-Arab relations and catapulted bilateral cooperation into a new stage.

He reaffirmed China’s willingness to cooperate with the Arab world and emphasized the need for China and the Arab states to increase strategic trust, continue their commitment to consultation and dialogue, preserve the principle of sovereignty, support inclusive peace, and combat terrorism.

Xi emphasized the need for China and Arab countries to continue prioritizing connectivity. Their energy cooperation must be driven by both oil and gas and low-carbon energy, and the financial cooperation must accompany their collaboration on cutting-edge, high-tech projects.

Among the initiatives the Chinese President presented in 2018 to foster better understanding between the two peoples were the official launch of a China-Arab press center and the formation of a China-Arab states bank consortium.

President Xi stressed the importance of considering the neighboring countries’ diverse national contexts. He hoped that all concerned parties would abide by the international agreement and handle things pertaining to Palestine impartially.

2016 visit of Xi Jinping

The last time President Xi Jinping traveled to Saudi Arabia was on January 19, 2016, when he met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh.

The two leaders of state expressed optimism in the progress of relations between China and Saudi Arabia, engaged in a detailed discussion of their bilateral ties and global and regional issues of interest, and came to a comprehensive understanding.

In order to further the comprehensive growth of bilateral ties and produce more fruitful cooperation, both parties jointly announced the establishment of the China-Saudi Arabia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

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President Xi Jinping met with Mohammad bin Salman, the deputy crown prince, on the same day. Xi Jinping emphasized that since the two countries’ diplomatic ties were established, their bilateral ties and collaboration had advanced steadily in all fields.

In addition to discussing and promoting cooperation in sectors including new energy, clean energy, nuclear energy, and security, President Xi added that China is eager to increase the volume of bilateral crude oil trade.

The strategic importance of Saudi Arabia’s location on the “Belt and Road” and its advantages were also mentioned.

Xi Jinping said, along with actively pursuing prospects for collaboration in the infrastructure and communications fields, the Arab world and China should also look at ways to enhance connectivity in the Middle East and Gulf region.

He also urged their financial institutions and capable firms to enhance bilateral investment and cooperation to advance countries’ shared growth and prosperity along the “Belt and Road.”

In a meeting with Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), President Xi highlighted China and the GCC’s interaction for 35 years and said the two sides’ cooperation has a strong base and promising future.

The President expressed China’s readiness to begin the “Belt and Road” development together with mutually beneficial cooperation with the GCC nations.

He mentioned China’s preparedness to serve as a long-term, stable, and trustworthy energy partner for the GCC nations and to build an all-encompassing energy cooperation structure that includes both upstream and downstream activities.

He urged for more collaboration in a variety of industries, including building infrastructure, communications, electric power, investing, finance, aerospace, nuclear power, and renewable energy.