London and Beijing, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud wrapped up a three-day official trip to China on Sunday, after a series of high-level meetings with Chinese officials.
After being welcomed by Chinese President Xin Jinping on his arrival in the Chinese capital on March 13, Crown Prince Salman, also deputy prime minister and minister of defense, subsequently met with Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Vice President Li Yuanchao.
His final meeting was with China’s defense minister, Gen. Chang Wanquan, on Saturday.
In a farewell message to Prime Minister Li, Prince Salman said: “I am pleased upon departing your friendly country at the end of my official visit to express my thanks and appreciation for the generous hospitality and warm welcome accorded to me and the accompanying delegation.”
He added: “Our talks have shown the desire to strengthen the cooperation between our two countries in all fields in the interest of our two friendly peoples. I wish you constant good health and happiness and your friendly people steady progress and prosperity.”
On the conclusion of the trip, both governments issued a joint statement saying the two sides “exchanged in-depth views on ways to develop Chinese–Saudi strategic relations of friendship and regional and international issues of common concern,” and expressed their “willingness to continue strengthening cooperation in the field of energy, stressing the importance of the stability of the oil market for the global economy.” The Chinese side expressed “appreciation for the prominent role being played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure the stability of world oil markets as a safe, reliable and dependable source for oil supplies to global markets.”
During the visit, Saudi and Chinese officials signed memorandums of understanding in a number of fields involving scientific and educational cooperation between institutions in the two countries. Crown Prince Salman also met with a number of leaders of Chinese Islamic Associations.
Senior Saudi officials told Asharq Al-Awsat that they expected to see economic benefits from the visit.
Prince Saud Bin Abdullah Bin Thunayan, Chairman of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), said the Crown Prince’s visit came at an important time in the development of Sino–Saudi relations.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “Saudi Arabia now has a leading position in the petrochemical industry and China is one of the biggest importers of its products, in addition to the great volume of oil which it imports from Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom also imports many products from China, and this type of relationship which grows with time and becomes stronger, promises a better future and a bigger trade exchange which would benefit both countries in various fields and strengthen the links between them.”
“We hope this historic visit will result in an expansion of economic relations and an increase in investment between the two countries,” he added.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority Abdullatif Al-Othman said that the visit of Crown Prince Salman to China had “crowned the rapid development in Saudi–Chinese relations.”
Speaking at a meeting of the Saudi–Chinese Investment Forum which coincided with the Crown Prince’s visit, he said: “I was pleased with the level of participation in this forum, not only at the level of large companies, but also small and medium enterprises; a number of these are looking seriously at Saudi Arabia for investment.”
Othman added: “When we market Saudi Arabia we provide the climate for investment in the country, most importantly [that of] political and economic stability.”
Msa’is Al-Zayyani contributed reporting from Beijing.