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Saudi Arabia, China Sign 34 Investment Agreements As U.S. Warns Of Chinese Influence In Mideast As Xi Visits

The White House on Wednesday responded to the visit of President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia by warning that China’s attempt to spread influence worldwide is “not conducive” to international order.

Asked about the Xi visit, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Saudi Arabia remains a crucial US ally, but he issued a warning over China.

“We are mindful of the influence that China is trying to grow around the world. The Middle East is certainly one of those regions where they want to deepen their level of influence,” he said.

“We believe that many of the things they’re trying to pursue and the manner in which they’re trying to pursue it are not conducive to preserving the international rules-based order.”

President Joe Biden has made what he identifies as a global competition between democracies and autocracies a central theme of his presidency.

“We are not asking nations to choose between the United States and China, but as the president has said many times we believe that in this strategic competition the United States is certainly well poised to lead,” Kirby said.

Washington has close commercial, diplomatic and military relations with Saudi Arabia, an Islamic, absolute monarchy.

New tensions erupted over a decision by the Saudi-led OPEC+ cartel to cut production in a bid to raise oil prices — a move claimed by the Biden administration as potentially harming his Democratic party in this November’s midterm legislative elections.

Kirby said Saudi Arabia had been a strategic US partner for some 80 years but noted that Biden has ordered a review of the ties.

“Yes in the wake of the OPEC+ decision a couple months ago we are reviewing that bilateral relationship and make sure that it best suits American national security interests. That work’s ongoing,” Kirby said.

Saudi and Chinese companies have signed 34 investment agreements during the start of Chinese President Xi Jinping three-day visit to the Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

Xi arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday. It marks his third overseas journey since the coronavirus pandemic began.

On Wednesday evening dozens of agreements were signed between Saudi and China covering several sectors in the fields of green energy, green hydrogen, photovoltaic energy, information technology, cloud services, transportation, logistics, medical industries, housing and construction factories.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid bin Abdulaziz al-Falih confirmed that the agreements reflect the Kingdom’s keenness under the leadership of the King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to develop the Kingdom’s relations in all fields including economic and investment with China.

Eng. al-Falih said that this visit reflects the keenness of the leaderships of the two countries to develop and strengthen relations and partnership between the two countries in all fields, including economic and investment, adding that the visit will contribute to raising the pace of economic and investment cooperation between the two countries.

He also explained that the Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China have solid relations and a close partnership that witnessed comprehensive development over the past years, especially after the mutual visits between the leaderships of the two countries, which resulted in fruitful cooperation that included various fields.

He further said that the Kingdom, in light of Vision 2030, offers unprecedented investment opportunities in various sectors including renewable energy, industry, communications, information technology, biotechnology, tourism, building and construction, and others, expressing his aspiration to enhance investments between the Kingdom and China.

The volume of trade exchange between the two countries amounted to SAR304 billion ($80 billion) in 2021, and trade exchange in the third quarter of 2022 recorded SAR103 billion ($270 million).

Xi’s visit to the Kingdom will run until December 9 during which a Saudi-China summit headed by King Salman and the Chinese president, with the participation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will be held.

Originally published in Alarabiya News

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