(Photo Credit: Saudi Press Agency)
The Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang announced on 31 January that Beijing is set to bolster bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia and to establish a free trade zone between China and the Gulf “as soon as possible.”
During a phone conversation between Gang and his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Gang stressed that Beijing appreciates the kingdom’s consistent support for China’s regional and international interests.
Gang added that both nations should expand cooperation in economy, trade, infrastructure, energy, and technology.
Al-Saud affirmed Riyadh’s position on China, saying that the kingdom considers Beijing an integral cornerstone of foreign relations and supports the one-China principle, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
The one-China principle entails that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) recognizes only one sovereign state under the name China, serving as Taiwan’s government and considering it a part of the East-Asian nation.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the kingdom’s integral role in stabilizing the global oil markets, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) affirmed Riyadh’s support for Beijing’s “one-China” policy during a Saudi-China summit.
The kingdom is China’s primary oil supplier, as Xi has expressed that Saudi Arabia is essential, given the impact of the current energy crisis caused by the US and its allies’ sanctions on Russia.
The OPEC+ coalition has been able to maintain oil a steady oil output as markets struggle to assess the impact of a G7 price cap on Russian oil.
China’s foreign ministry described its president’s visit to the kingdom as the “largest-scale diplomatic activity between China and the Arab world” since its current government’s formation.
Washington responded to Xi by describing the move as China’s recent attempt to expand its influence with the Global South.
In August 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Gulf ally, the UAE, also affirmed its support for Beijing’s “one-China” policy regarding Taiwan.
This came in the wake of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s “provocative visit” to Taiwan.