Riyadh: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s high-profile visit to Saudi Arabia this month has caught global attention for signing several strategic deals, including one involving controversial Chinese tech giant Huawei, according to Al Arabiya Post.
The deal over controversy-marred Huawei Technologies is related to cloud computing, data centres and building high-tech complexes in Saudi cities, according to Saudi officials, the Saudi publication said.
The China-Saudi deal came a little after the US recently imposed a ban on approvals of new telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE, citing national security risks.
The three-day visit of Chinese leader Xi to Saudi Arabia and his talks with important Gulf Cooperation Council leaders, as well as the signing of dozens of agreements with Riyadh, show that Beijing is trying to increase its influence in the region.
However, according to regional analyst John Solomou, this initiative would not go so far as to supplant the US security role and Saudi Arabia has been recalibrating its relations with the US and China.
In contrast to the frosty reception accorded by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to US President Joe Biden last July, the Chinese leader was warmly welcomed with pomp and ceremony when he arrived in Riyadh.
Xi’s visit was described as “a milestone” in relations between the two countries and is seen as a “snub” to Washington which has repeatedly urged Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States not to be tempted by the commercial “carrot” offered by China and to join the sanctions imposed by the West against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
The Chinese leader had talks with 86-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. The Chinese leader pointed out that developing his country’s relations with Saudi Arabia is a priority in its foreign relations and diplomacy in the Middle East.
Xi and King Salman signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership agreement”. The Chinese leader said that the agreement heralded “a new era” in ties between the two countries.
MBS said that Saudi Arabia supports China’s measures and efforts for “deradicalization” and invited more Chinese companies to take an active part in the industrialization process of the Kingdom.
Later, 34 agreements were signed by Saudi and Chinese officials, covering a wide range of sectors: information technology, green hydrogen, photovoltaics, transportation, information technology and cloud services, construction of houses, logistics and medical services. The Saudi media estimate that the value of agreements signed totals about 30 billion.