03/17/2017, 12.16
CHINA – S. ARABIA
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Contracts for 65 billion dollars between Beijing and Riyadh

by Wang Zhicheng

14 agreements on energy, education, space science, finance signed. From this year the Saudi Arab has once again become the first supplier of oil to China. Riyadh within the "One belt one road project." Fears of Iran and Syria.

 

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The King Salman of Saudi Arabia and President Xi Jinping yesterday signed 14 contracts for a value of 65 billion US dollars. The monarch, with a retinue of a thousand persons, is on an official visit to China March 15 to 18. The agreements were signed for energy, space science and finance. Several of these agreements are related to cooperation for some chemical and oil projects in both countries.

According to experts, the visit has economic implications, but also strategic. Saudi Arabia was China's first oil supplier for many years, from 2000 until 2015, when it was surpassed by Russia. But from January 2017 Riyadh has once again become the main supplier and China is in turn Saudi Arabia’s first trading partner.

Beijing for its part wants secure oil supplies for its growing economy. At the same time it would like to involve Riyadh in the project "One belt one road" launched by Xi for a network of infrastructure and trade involving Asia and Europe.

At present there are 130 Chinese companies investing in Saudi Arabia in energy, construction of houses, ports, roads and telecommunications. Saudi, in turn, wants to diversify its investments in an attempt to emerge from the oil price crisis that has hit it.

The relations are also determined by the Iranian and Syrian issue. In 2011 the relations between Riyadh and Beijing were undermined by differences over the Syrian crisis. In 2016, a visit by Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia improved things. A closer relationship between the two countries aims to balance Chinese support for Iran and Syria.

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