London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Saudi Prince Seeks Mideast Leadership With Xi Jinping's Visit

Saudi Prince Seeks Mideast Leadership With Xi Jinping's Visit

The ruler of the oil giant has made a comeback on the world stage following the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which cast a pall over Saudi-U.S. ties.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosts China's leader this week at a delicate moment in U.S.-Saudi ties, signalling Riyadh's resolve to navigate a polarised global order regardless of the wishes of its Western allies, analysts said.

The ruler of the oil giant has made a comeback on the world stage following the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which cast a pall over Saudi-U.S. ties, and has been defiant in the face of U.S. ire over the kingdom's energy policy and pressure from Washington to help isolate Russia.

In a show of strength as an aspiring leader of the Arab world, Prince Mohammed will also gather rulers from across the Middle East and North Africa for a Chinese-Arab summit during the visit by President Xi Jinping expected to start on Tuesday.

"Riyadh is working according to strategic calculations that it must accommodate Beijing, as it is now an indispensable economic partner," said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group.

Though the United States remains partner of choice for Gulf states reliant on it for their security, Riyadh is charting a foreign policy that serves its national economic transformation as the world pivots away from hydrocarbons, Saudi's lifeblood, the analysts said.

"There is certainly a risk that expanding relations with China backfires and lead to a (further) split in the U.S.-Saudi relationship... but MBS is certainly not pursuing this out of spite," Kamel said.

Xi's visit comes at a time when U.S.-Saudi ties are at a nadir, uncertainty weighs on global energy markets with the West imposing a price cap on Russian oil and as Washington warily eyes China's growing influence in the Middle East.

The Saudi government did not respond to requests for comment on Xi's visit and its agenda.

In a sign of irritation with U.S. criticism of Riyadh's human rights record, Prince Mohammed told The Atlantic magazine in March that he did not care whether U.S. President Joe Biden misunderstood things about him, saying Biden should be focusing on America's interests.

He also suggested in remarks carried by Saudi state news agency SPA that same month that while Riyadh aimed to boost its ties to Washington it could also choose to reduce "our interests" -- Saudi investments -- in the United States.

Saudi Arabia is deepening economies ties to China. It is China's top oil supplier, although fellow OPEC+ producer Russia has increased its Chinese market share with lower-priced fuel.

Beijing has also been lobbying for use of its yuan currency in trade instead of the U.S. dollar. Riyadh had previously threatened to ditch some dollar oil trades to confront possible U.S. legislation exposing OPEC members to antitrust lawsuits.

U.S.-Saudi ties under Biden's administration, already strained over human rights and the Yemen war in which Riyadh leads a military coalition, have frayed further due to the Ukraine war and OPEC+ oil policy.

FANFARE AND DEALS

Diplomats in the region said Xi would have a lavish reception akin to the one shown then-President Donald Trump when he visited the kingdom in 2017, and in contrast to Biden's awkward visit in July that had aimed to mend ties with Riyadh.

Trump was met by King Salman at the airport amid fanfare while clinching over $100 billion in contracts for U.S. military industry. Biden, who once vowed to make Riyadh "a pariah" over the Khashoggi killing, had downplayed his meetings with Prince Mohammed, to whom he gave a fist-bump rather than a handshake.

The Chinese delegation is expected to sign dozens of agreements with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states covering energy, security and investments, diplomats have told Reuters.

Prince Mohammed is focused on delivering his Vision 2030 diversification plan to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries, including cars and arms manufacturing as well as logistics, though foreign direct investment has been slow.

The kingdom is investing heavily in new infrastructure and megaprojects in tourism and initiatives like the $500 billion NEOM zone, a boon for Chinese construction firms.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have said they would continue to diversify partnerships to serve economic and security interests, despite U.S. reservations about their ties with both Russia and China.

Prince Mohammed wants to demonstrate to his own constituency that the kingdom is important to many global powers, said Jonathan Fulton, non-resident senior fellow at Atlantic Council.

"Perhaps he's signalling to the U.S. as well, but...he's more concerned about what people within the kingdom think."

COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP

Biden pledged "consequences" for Riyadh after the OPEC+ output move but Washington has since reiterated its support for the kingdom's security, with U.S. officials stressing the U.S. "comparative advantage" in building integrated defence structures in the Gulf.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that Washington wants to make sure that its "strategic" relationship with Riyadh was working "in our best interests".

U.S. officials have declined to comment when asked about Saudi-China bilateral relations ahead of Xi's visit.

Washington has voiced concern over Gulf Arab use of Chinese 5G technology and Chinese investments in sensitive infrastructure like ports, including in the United Arab Emirates which halted a Chinese port project due to U.S. concern.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are buying Chinese military equipment and a Saudi firm signed a deal with a Chinese company to manufacture armed drones in the kingdom.

Saudi analyst Abdulaziz Sager, chairman of Riyadh-based Gulf Research Center, told Saudi TV Asharq News that Arab states wanted to tell Western allies that they have alternatives and their relations are primarily based on economic interests.

Though Saudi ties with China appear to be growing "much more quickly" than with the United States, the actual relationships are not comparable, said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East programme at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"The relationships with China pale versus those with the United States in terms of both complexity and intimacy," he said.
Comments

Oh ya 2 year ago
In short he is getting ready to dump the USD to buy oil. This in turn will crash the petro dollar thus ending the USD as the world reserve currency. Then Americans will find out what hyperinflation is all about as the world sends all those USD they don't want back to the United States. Sanctions and seizing other people's assets are about to bite the USA in the butt. And America does not have a military anymore, they lost Korea, Vietnam, the desert wars and then left billions in arms in Afghanistan as they tucked tail and ran, leaving those arms to Saudis enemy. Saudi knows that the USA can not protect them as agreed to with the forming of the petro dollar in 1972. Crazy times a coming

Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
Russia's Electronic Warfare Neutralizes Western Weapons in Ukraine
Trump Challenges Biden to Debate and Golf Match
Macron Accuses Israeli Minister of Election Interference
US Senator Highlights Weaknesses in Western Military Industry During Ukraine Conflict
George Clooney Urges Biden to Withdraw from Presidential Race
Political Shift in the UK: A Detailed Analysis of Labour's Victory and Future Prospects
Viktor Orbán's Peace Mission: A Diplomatic Controversy in the EU
India Advocates Peace and Prosperity: PM Modi's Speech in Austria
New UK PM Keir Starmer Reaffirms Strong Support for Ukraine at NATO Summit
Spain PM Pedro Sanchez Denounces Double Standards on Gaza at NATO Summit
UK Police Arrest Suspect in Crossbow Attack After Three Women Killed
Sunita Williams Safe on ISS, to Address Earth on July 10
Biden Affirms Commitment To Presidential Race
France Faces Political Turmoil and Airport Strikes Ahead of Paris Olympics 2024
Putin Hosts PM Modi for a Private Meeting
TSMC: The Taiwanese Chip Giant Valued Over $1 Trillion
Boeing Pleads Guilty Over 737 MAX Crashes
2024 Predicted to Be World's Hottest Year
Iran's President-Elect Masoud Pezeshkian Reiterates Support for Hezbollah
White House Denies Biden Being Treated for Parkinson's Disease
Biden to Meet New UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer
Biden Insists on Continuing Presidential Race Amid Criticism
UK Defence Minister Pledges Enhanced Support to Ukraine
French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal Resigns After Election Setback
Macron Faces New Political Challenges Despite Election Relief
France's Far-Right Falls Short in Parliamentary Elections
Key Figures in France's Left-Wing New Popular Front Bloc
England Reaches Euro 2024 Semifinals After Penalty Shootout Win
Rishi Sunak Apologizes After Historic Tory Defeat
Voter Discontent in Recent UK and French Elections
Trump was recorded attacking Biden: "I kicked the old pile of shit"
Understanding the MRP Method in UK Elections
US Officials Resign Over Biden's Gaza Policy
First-Time Immigrant Voters Aim to Influence UK Elections 2024
Reform UK Receives Major Donations from Brexit Campaign Group
Tata Steel Strike Called Off, Paving the Way for Crucial Talks
Sir Keir Starmer's Acceptance of Substantial Gifts from UK Donors
New Zealand Introduces Law to Make Tech Giants Pay for News
NASA Astronauts Stranded in Space Due to Boeing's Starliner Issues
OpenAI and Microsoft Sued for Copyright Infringement
Starmer Vows to Renegotiate Brexit Deal Amid Far-Right Rise in France
Monster Hurricane Beryl Hits Caribbean as Category Five Storm
EU Charges Meta with Breaching Antitrust Rules
Biden's Debate Performance Unites Democrats and Republicans
Prison Officer Faces Court Over Inmate Sex Video
Jude Bellingham's Iconic Euro 2024 Goal: A Historic Moment for England
Campaigners Push for Emergency Uplift Visa for Palestinians Escaping Gaza Conflict
French Elections: Battle to Thwart Far-Right Takeover
Supreme Court Grants Trump Partial Immunity, Delays Trial
China Criticizes US Restrictions on AI Investments
×