Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman with the Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Li Huaxin during a visit to the Great Wall of China in Beijing, China. Image Credit: Reuters

BEIJING: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman met Friday with China’s President Xi Jinping and bagged a $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) oil deal.

Mohammad arrived in Beijing on Thursday following visits to Pakistan and India.

He met with Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng earlier on Friday.

“Is the crown prince’s tour symbolic of Saudi Arabia’s pivot to the East? Yes,” Najah Al Otaibi, a senior analyst at the pro-Saudi think tank Arabia Foundation, told AFP.

“Riyadh wants to strengthen alliances in Asia,” she said.

Saudi Arabia’s relations with China can be traced back a very long time in the past. Over such a long period of exchanges with China, we have never experienced any problems with China.

- Mohammad Bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince

China is looking to strengthen its economic ties with the kingdom, as Beijing pursues its ambitious Belt and Road trade infrastructure initiative, while Riyadh rolls out “Saudi Vision 2030” — the crown prince’s major programme to diversify the national economy away from oil.

During their meeting, Han suggested that the two countries deepen partnerships in energy, infrastructure construction, finance, and high-tech.

Trade and security

Riyadh’s national oil giant Saudi Aramco said it had signed an agreement to form a Saudi-Chinese joint venture — worth more than $10 billion — to develop a refining and petrochemical complex in northeastern Liaoning province.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority also announced the signing of 35 non-binding memorandums of understanding, including deals related to energy, mining, transportation and e-commerce.

China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (second left) speaks to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (not pictured) during their meeting in Beijing. Image Credit: Reuters

“As the kingdom diversifies its non-oil economy, it needs a variety of other investors with technical expertise, including the Chinese,” Otaibi said.

National security is also a potential area of cooperation between the Gulf state and China.

The two countries should boost partnerships in counterterrorism and law enforcement, and exchange experience on combating extremism, Han said in his meeting with Mohammad, according to Xinhua’s report.

The Saudis said it “firmly supported” Beijing’s efforts to keep the country secure, and opposed “interference by external forces in China’s internal affairs”, said Xinhua, paraphrasing remarks from the crown prince.