Saudi Arabia and China signed a strategic partnership agreement yesterday during a visit by the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to the kingdom, underlining the growing ties between Beijing and a longstanding American ally that is seeking greater self-reliance.
Xi held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. Over a three-day visit, Xi is expected to attend summits with leaders from Gulf, Arab and African countries, including Egypt, Djibouti and Iraq. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, is also expected to join.
Prince Mohammed has accelerated efforts to diversify Saudi Arabia’s alliances, trying to move beyond its reliance on the U.S. for security and weapons. There are growing perceptions in Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East that the U.S. — seen as a superpower in long-term decline — has lost interest in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s ties to China have been strengthening rapidly, turning what was once a mostly oil-based relationship into a more complex one involving arms sales, technology transfers and infrastructure projects.