The crown prince is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on his two-day trip to the Chinese capital.
China sees “enormous potential” in Saudi Arabia’s economy and wants more high-tech cooperation, the Chinese government’s top diplomat said, as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a two-day trip to Beijing.
The Saudi delegation, including top executives from Aramco, arrived on Thursday on an Asia tour that has already seen the Kingdom pledge investment of $20 billion in Pakistan and seek additional investment in India’s refining industry.
At the airport, the crown prince was greeted by a number of Chinese officials, including Khi Li Fung, Deputy Chairman of the Advisory and Political Council of the People’s Republic of China, and Chinese Ambassador to the Kingdom Li Huaxin.
The crown prince visited the Great Wall of China on Thursday, alongside a number of other government officials.
The crown prince will meet President Xi Jinping, who has made stepping up China’s presence in the Middle East a key foreign policy objective, despite its traditional low-key role there.
Meeting Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir, State Councillor Wang Yi said the main features of their ties were respect, understanding and support for each other, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.
“All countries in the world have the right to develop, and Saudi Arabia is an emerging market country with enormous potential,” the ministry paraphrased Wang as saying.
China supports Saudi’s efforts to diversify its economy and is willing to strengthen high-tech cooperation, Wang added.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil exporter, will sign a pact to build a refinery and petrochemical project in northeastern Liaoning province in a joint venture with China’s defence conglomerate Norinco, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.
The investments could help Saudi Arabia regain its place as the top oil exporter to China, a position Russia has held for the last three years. Saudi Aramco is set to boost market share by signing supply deals with non-state Chinese refiners.
Wang said both countries face the threats of terrorism and extremism, and should strengthen cooperation to safeguard security and stability.