Monday, 29 May, 2017

China, Saudi Arabia stress ties, sign $65 billion in deals

Reuters Reuters
Howard Terry | 18 March, 2017, 01:01

For Saudi Arabia, this greater Chinese involvement could perhaps mean additional leverage against its political and religious rival-Iran-although China is being wary: during King Salman's visit, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a point of saying that "We hope that Saudi Arabia and Iran can resolve the problems that exist between them via equal and friendly consultations", signaling the role of a mediator between the two is what China is aiming for.

Asian countries are vital importers of Saudi oil, and the country wants to boost sales to China.

A statement later posted on Saudi state news agency SPA said the documents included an MoU for the kingdom to participate in China's Chang E-4 moon mission and a partnership agreement for manufacturing drones.

The move, if firmed up, would be a big step for the Saudi economy as the government tries to diversify beyond oil exports and create jobs as part of its 2030 Vision.

Cooperation is also advancing in the fields of energy production, satellites, sciences, technology, nuclear energy, renewable energy, the financial sector and other emerging fields.

The Norinco deal could involve a greenfield refinery and chemical plant in Panjin, Liaoning Province, while also upgrading a refinery and petrochemical facility there, a source said.

Xi said he looked forward to discussing projects under development, and said results so far "have surpassed our expectations".

- Saudi Aramco and Aerosun Corp 600501.SS signed an MoU to manufacture reinforced thermoplastic pipe and components.

China had long taken a backseat to disputes in the Middle East but especially with the United States' global diplomatic stance under President Donald Trump unclear, Xi started taking a new approach with steps that include hosting talks between the opposing parties in the Syrian conflict. He noted that Saudi-Chinese trade relationship has increased gradually over the years and the Kingdom has regained its position as the largest supplier of crude oil to China, citing data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs. The three-day Chinese stop reciprocates Xi's visit to Riyadh past year to shore up China's sphere of influence in the middle east. Xi visited both Saudi Arabia and Iran in January a year ago.

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