China, Saudi Arabia Cement Ties with Deals Including Huawei

Saudi King Salman and Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping on Thursday signed a "comprehensive strategic partnership agreement," as part of Xi's historic visit to Riyadh aimed at bolstering political and economic ties.

China, Saudi Arabia Cement Ties with Deals Including Huawei
Image credit: Saudi Press Agency/Handout/Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Saudi King Salman and Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping on Thursday signed a "comprehensive strategic partnership agreement," as part of Xi's historic visit to Riyadh aimed at bolstering political and economic ties.
  • The multiple strategic deals between the two countries included an MoU with China's Huawei Technologies on cloud computing and building high-tech complexes in Saudi cities.
  • The Saudi Press Agency reported that Chinese and Saudi firms also signed over 30 deals for investment in green energy, information technology, cloud services, transport, construction and other sectors.
  • The United States has raised concerns over a possible security risk in using Huawei's technology for its 5G mobile infrastructure. Claiming that Beijing could exploit Huawei, Washington has threatened to end intelligence-sharing with nations that use its equipment.
  • Meanwhile, during the China-Gulf summit on Friday, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the countries had discussed the possibility of establishing a Chinese-Gulf free trade zone.
  • The United States, which views China's growing influence in the Middle East with unease, termed Xi's visit an example of Chinese attempts to exert influence around the world, and has said it will have no impact on US policy towards the Gulf countries.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Reuters, Economic Times, Al Arabiya, and US News.

Narratives

  • Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. Xi's trip is a fantastic opportunity for China to increase trade and cooperation with the Arab world, specifically its main oil-producing states. China and the Middle East are natural cooperative partners, as they have shared experiences in their respective struggles with Western imperialism. The Arab world has become tired of the condescending arrogance of the West, and deserves a real international partner, such as China.
  • Anti-China narrative, as provided by Dawn. Though Xi's trip to Saudi Arabia may seem like a routine summit, in reality, it demonstrates China's desire to export its own brand of high-tech authoritarianism. China's goals are overall economic in nature, but they also seek to empower the region's despots within a system of totalitarian capitalism. For China, ideals like freedom and democracy mean nothing, and economic and geopolitical interests trump all.