Saudi Arabia’s King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth potentially $65 billion as he began a visit to Beijing on Thursday, as the world’s largest oil producer looks to cement ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
The octogenarian monarch, who has overseen the launch of an ambitious economic reform plan since his accession two years ago, is on a month-long Asian tour.
The visits to countries that are some of world’s fastest growing importers of Saudi oil aim to promote investment opportunities in the kingdom, including the sale of a stake in its giant state firm Saudi Aramco.
Saudi Arabia has sought to boost oil sales to China, the world’s second-largest oil market, after losing market share to Russia last year, by working mostly with China’s top three state oil firms.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told Salman in Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People that his visit showed the importance he attached to relations with China.
“This visit will push forward and continue to improve the quality of our relations and bear new fruit,” Xi said in comments in front of reporters.
Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the memorandums of understanding and letters of intent were potentially worth about $65 billion, involving everything from energy to space, but he did not give details.
“President Xi Jinping and King Salman are old friends,” Zhang said. “Practical cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia has already made major achievements, and has huge potential.” More