Politics & News

A Look into Saudi Arabia, China’s rich Cooperation History & Bright Prospects

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People’s Republic of China are experiencing a distinguished and close development of diplomatic relations. The two countries are moving towards more cooperation and mutual understanding between them in various fields for the benefit of the two friendly countries and peoples.


The two countries established close relations 80 years ago, beginning with simple commercial relations and the reception of Chinese pilgrims, which led to official recognition in 1990 when the two countries agreed to establish full diplomatic relations, exchange ambassadors, and organize meetings on political, economic, youth, and other issues.

The Kingdom’s keenness, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and his faithful Crown Prince – May God preserve them – develop bilateral relations with the Chinese side comes in the context of its strategic direction to strengthen its bilateral relations and partnerships with all influential countries and international powers.

In January 2016, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received His Excellency President Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, and the King held talks with His Excellency at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.

During the visit, 14 agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed between the Kingdom’s and China’s governments.

These agreements included a memorandum to enhance cooperation in the matter of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road Initiative for the 21st Century.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Excellency President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China inaugurated the Yanbu Aramco Synbook Refining Company (YASREF) project, which represents a landmark edifice of the partnership between the Kingdom and China.

Saudi-Chinese relations were greatly strengthened in the month of Dhu al-Qi`dah 1437 AH, following the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, and Prime Minister, to the People’s Republic of China.

Two countries took part in a rare trip to explore the invisible side of the moon, within the framework of their growing interest in exploring space.

This cooperation between Riyadh and Beijing comes as a translation of the memorandum of understanding concluded between the two countries during the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – may God protect him – to China on March 16, 2017, which established cooperation with the Chinese Space Agency to explore the moon.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud visited China in 1999 when he was governor of the Riyadh region. He also visited China in 2014 when he was the crown prince, and the last time was in March 2017.

In a speech during his visit to China in 2017, the King affirmed his pride in the level of bilateral relations and cooperation between the Kingdom and the friendly People’s Republic of China.

During the visit, several memorandums of understanding, cooperation, and programs were signed between the governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People’s Republic of China in several fields, including space science and technology, the technical cooperation program in the commercial field, and the memorandum of understanding regarding the Saudi Fund for Development’s contribution to financing a project to construct university buildings in Sanchi Province.

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Prime Minister, and head of the Kingdom’s delegation participated in the G20 Leaders’ Summit. He met in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, in November 2018, with His Excellency President Xi Jinping, Chief Public Officer of the People’s Republic of China. This was on the sidelines of the summit.

The visit of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to China, came in 2019 when His Excellency President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China received His Highness the Crown Prince.

During their visit, they discussed ways of improving trade, investment, energy, culture, and technology cooperation. They also reviewed prospects for a bilateral partnership between the two sides within the scope of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the Belt and Road Initiative.

On the sidelines of the visit, the Saudi-Chinese Investment Forum was held, which witnessed the participation of more than 25 entities from the government and private sectors in the Kingdom, and resulted in the signing of 35 agreements worth more than $28 billion, and the delivery of 4 licenses to Chinese companies specialized in several fields.

Another cooperation agreement signed during the forum covered the areas of sectors targeted by the Kingdom, such as renewable technologies. This agreement included a partnership between the General Authority for Investment and Gold Wind International Holding.

Other agreements were signed covering the petrochemical industry, information technology, and infrastructure on the list of targeted investment sectors.

China supports the “Green Middle East” initiative launched by His Highness the Crown Prince and welcomes the Kingdom’s accession to the global development initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On the economic level, the Kingdom and China share membership in some international economic organizations and blocs, such as the World Trade Organization and the Group of Twenty.

China is the Kingdom’s first trading partner for the last 5 years, as it was the first destination for the Kingdom’s foreign exports and imports since 2018, as the volume of intra-trade reached SAR 309 billion in 2021, an increase of 39% over the year 2020, and the total volume of Saudi exports reached SAR 192 billion to China, of which SAR 41 billion are non-oil exports.

The value of Saudi investments in China amounted to SAR 8.6 billion. The Kingdom ranked 12th in the ranking of countries investing in China until the end of 2019. In contrast, the value of Chinese investments in the Kingdom amounted to SAR 29 billion by the end of 2021.

The Kingdom seeks to develop a strategic partnership that promotes trade and investment with China. This will make the Kingdom the first reliable strategic partner for China in the region. This is because the Kingdom acquired over 20.3% of China’s investments in the Arab world between 2005 and 2020.

To strengthen economic relations between the two countries, A (Saudi-Chinese) fund was established to support emerging technology companies in the Kingdom, with a capital estimated at SAR 1.5 billion, in a partnership between the Chinese (eWTp) supported by (Alibaba) and the Public Investment Fund, and with the support of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, to contribute to supporting a solid economic system for digital businesses in the Kingdom.

The “Belt and Road” initiative helps achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals through investment cooperation between the two countries.

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