Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Saudi Arabia this week, where he could see tens of billions of dollars being invested in the country.
“I would argue that this is a major turning point,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, fellow in Russian and Middle East affairs at the Jamestown Foundation, told Fox Business. “It could be an inflection point for the region in terms of China’s presence, that’s what it means Beijing is no longer a contender they.”
“Because of the changing security environment and where the geoeconomy is going, the logical choice for the Saudis is to go east,” he added.
Xi will land in Saudi Arabia Beijing and Riyadh are set to begin three days of meetings between the leaders of the two countries on Thursday, aimed at strengthening the already rosy partnership: China has been Saudi Arabia’s top exporter and importer since 2018, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
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The visit comes amid strained relations between the US and Saudi Arabia following 2018. Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi murderedThis, allegedly with the direct approval of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, overshadowed all US-Saudi relations in the following years.
Biden’s recent visit to Riyadh over the summer did not produce the breakthrough the United States wanted. Reports following the visit indicated that the prince came away unimpressed with the president.
Saudi Arabia’s agenda appears to be more aligned with Russia than with the U.S. – Biden also raised Washington and Riyadh. Frustration in oil production Gas prices rose following anti-Russian sanctions on Ukraine and OPEC+ refused to back down from its plan to cut production in the coming months.
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Gordon Chang, a China expert and senior fellow at the Gladstone Institute, argued that Biden’s pursuit of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, which would generate billions of dollars in new funding for the country — would make life increasingly difficult for Saudi Arabia. .
“Biden’s Middle East Policy Leaning towards IranSo Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s adversary, is angry with Washington,” Chang told FOX Business. “As a result, the Saudi royal family is very open to working with China.”
“We shouldn’t be surprised by the regional withdrawal from Washington,” he continued. “On January 20, 2021, America went from a good, successful Middle East policy to a bad one.”
“We cannot imagine that there will not be any adverse consequences. We are fast losing friends in Riyadh and the capitals of the Gulf Cooperation Council, among others.”
Xi’s visit could further widen that gap as the crown prince seeks more investment from China. Former President Donald Trump visit in 2017 It generated about $100 billion in contracts for the US military industry.
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A U.S. State Department spokeswoman told FOX Business they would defer to China’s Foreign Ministry on details of the visit, and a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had no comment at a press conference Tuesday.
A State Department spokesman emphasized that the Biden administration has “consistently” emphasized that the United States has never asked countries to choose “between the United States and the PRC” or “any other country.”
“Our goal is to provide a choice to countries around the world and to build America’s choice and make what we bring to the table a more attractive option,” the spokesperson said. “The United States is deeply committed to security in the Middle East, and our comparative advantages in building alliances, partnerships and consolidating defense structures are unmatched.”
With some countries already banning the production of gas-powered cars over the next 20 years, the crown prince is focused on helping diversify his kingdom’s economic interests as the world moves away from oil and gas.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that sideline meetings during the Saudi-Chinese summit could result in more than 20 deals worth SAR110 billion – approximately $29 billion – and further strategic partnership agreements between the two countries.
But the final details of those deals — and what each side ends up compromising on — will indicate how aligned the two countries are on their goals, according to Karasik.
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“From the US point of view, the best outcome is that some of the understandings or omissions in these agreements during three different summits show a lack of a unified position between certain Gulf countries and Asia,” Karasik said.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry did not respond to a FOX Business request for comment by the time of publication.
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