Saudi king postpones visit to the Maldives over swine flu

Kristopher Drake
March 18, 2017

Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the memorandums of understanding and letters of intent that the pair signed involved everything from energy to space.

Xi, for his part, acknowledged the mutually beneficial respect between China and "Islamic countries", suggesting China would not mind a greater involvement in Middle Eastern affairs at all.

Wang said Sinopec was willing to work with Saudi Arabia closely on upstream exploration and development, oil field services, refining technology and engineering, according to the website.

Meanwhile, state-run Saudi Aramco has signed MOUs with five Japanese entities during a business forum held yesterday, coinciding with a visit by Saudi Arabia's King Salman this week. "Practical cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia has already made major achievements, and has huge potential".

The move, if firmed up, would be a big step for the Saudi economy as the government tries to diversify beyond oil exports and create jobs as part of its 2030 Vision. China recently loosened its control on a sector long dominated by the country's top three energy giants in a bid to boost private investment.

The Norinco deal could involve exploring the possibility of a greenfield refinery and chemical plant in Panjin, in Liaoning province, while also upgrading a refinery and petrochemical facility in the same location, an industry source said.

China had long taken a backseat to disputes in the Middle East but especially with the United States' global diplomatic stance under President Donald Trump unclear, Xi started taking a new approach with steps that include hosting talks between the opposing parties in the Syrian conflict. Iran had blamed it on organisational incompetence.

The agreement comes as a promising development between the two countries as a year ago Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with Iran after rioters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran while protesting Saudi Arabia's execution of Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken Shiite cleric who had criticized the Saudi royal family.

One Beijing-based diplomat from a Muslim-majority country told Reuters that China was trying to play the role of "honest broker" in the Middle East, as it lacks the historical baggage of the Americans or the Europeans.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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