Riyadh: Economic relations between Saudi Arabia and China received a shot in the arm with the signing of five landmark agreements aimed at taking ties to a new height.

The agreements, including the one for the ambitious Makkah mono-rail project, were signed yesterday - the first day of a high-profile official visit from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and Hu were present at the signing ceremony. Earlier, both leaders highlighted the significance of further strengthening bilateral relations during their talks, which covered a wide-range of issues.

The agreements signed included cooperation in oil, gas and mining; in the field of health; on quality inspection and standards of goods and services; a memorandum of understanding to set up a chapter of King Abdul Aziz Public Library in Beijing and the Makkah railway project.

The signing of agreements during the second visit of Hu is regarded as another milestone in the growing bilateral ties between the two countries , which gained momentum after the visit of King Abdullah to China in January 2006, the first ever visit of the monarch to a foreign country after ascending to the throne.

China is keen to ensure huge supply of oil and petrochemicals for its industries from the Kingdom while Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer and supplier in the world, wants to tap the potential of the most populous country in the world.

China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) and the Kingdom's oil giant Saudi Aramco signed earlier agreements to establish oil refineries in the Kingdom.

Sinopec has been joining hands with Saudi Aramco in oil exploration since 2004.

According to Saudi Arabian officials, the Kingdom would spend 450 billion riyals ($120 billion) on infrastructure projects over the coming five years.

The report, released by the Chinese embassy in Riyadh, showed that Saudi Arabia has been the largest trading partner of China in West Asia and Africa over the past eight years and the value of trade exchange between the two countries exceeded $41.8 billion in 2008.

Last week, Kingdom's Al Rajhi-led consortium has won the 6.79 billion riyal contract for implementation of the Haramain Railway project linking the cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The contract involves undertaking the civil works, the first part for laying rail lines from Makkah to Madinah passing through Jeddah city and King Abdul Aziz International Airport. Al Rajhi Alliance includes China Railway Engineering Corporation and France's Alstom Transport.