China and Saudi Arabia expressed aligned policies in a variety of areas, from security to oil, in a joint statement on Friday, adding that they will support each other without interfering in each other’s internal affairs.
The agreement comes during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the kingdom, and amid frayed ties between the United States and the two countries over oil production, human rights abuses and other issues.
The almost 4,000 words joint declaration was published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and expressed agreement on a number of far-reaching global issues, including energy, security, Iran’s nuclear program, the crisis in Yemen and Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Riyadh and Beijing were keen to stress “the importance of stability in world oil markets,” noting that Saudi Arabia is a reliable exporter of crude oil for its Chinese partner. They also expressed their determination to “develop cooperation and coordination in the fields of defense,” as well as continue to cooperate in “the fight against terrorism and its financing.”
The declaration affirmed that the countries “will continue to stand firmly on each other’s fundamental interests, supporting each other in maintaining their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will make joint efforts to uphold the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States, norms of international law”. law and basic principles of international relations”.
This would include not criticizing the internal policies of others, presumably even on matters of human rights and internal governance.
China also stated its “opposition to any action that interferes in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” without adding further details.
Both countries have been heavily criticized for their human rights records and Washington has previously clamped down on what it viewed as a series of human rights violations and abuses committed by both China and Saudi Arabia.
In June, the US banned all products produced in China’s western Xinjiang region, where the State Department estimates that, since 2017, up to 2 million Uyghurs and members of other ethnic groups have been imprisoned in a shadowy network of internment camps where they are reportedly “subjected to torture, cruel and inhuman treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor and death”. Chinese officials have consistently denied all claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
And in 2021, a report by the US intelligence community claimed that Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) was directly involved in an operation that led to the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. MBS denied the accusations.
Xi landed in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday for a multi-day visit to the oil-rich kingdom and received a lavish welcome from MBS and other Saudi dignitaries on Thursday. Saudi military planes accompanied the Chinese president’s plane, a purple carpet was rolled out upon his arrival and cannon shots were fired. On Friday, Xi invited Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to visit China, according to Saudi state television.
Xi’s visit includes his attendance at a “Saudi-China summit”, a China-Arab and China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, SPA reported.
On Thursday, China and Saudi Arabia signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement that includes a series of agreements and memorandums of understanding, including on hydrogen power, on coordination between the kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the Belt and Road Initiative. China, and regarding direct investment, SPA reported, without giving details.
Xi’s warm welcome contrasted with the frigid atmosphere surrounding US President Joe Biden’s visit to the kingdom earlier this year.
Biden, who previously vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” after Khashoggi’s murder, said in October that the United States needs to “rethink” its relationship with the kingdom after the Saudi-led oil cartel, OPEC+, cut oil production.
Washington has also been at loggerheads with China over Taiwan, a democratically ruled island of 24 million people that Beijing claims as its territory even though it has never controlled it, and China’s expanding influence in the Middle East.
Responding to Xi’s visit to Riyadh, Washington said it was “not surprised” and was “aware of the influence that China is trying to grow around the world.”
Saudi Arabia has been on a quest in recent years to diversify its alliances, especially amid growing US criticism of the kingdom’s policies, as well as what the Gulf monarchies have perceived as a security presence. usa security
“At a time when Saudi Arabia seeks to advance its economic diversification plans, China is a strong and much less critical partner compared to other Western states.” Wrote Amena BakrOPEC’s chief correspondent at Energy Intelligence, on Twitter.
Saudi author and analyst Ali Shihabi He wrote that, from the Saudi perspective, there has been frustration that “American politicians continue to define the Kingdom” over the Khashoggi assassination, the Yemen war and human rights.
“Even the United States with all its capabilities spent two decades and trillions, and lost countless lives, trying to reform Iraq and Afghanistan, only to fail miserably,” he wrote.
Saudi Arabia “is pursuing a multipolar strategy of strong strategic ties,” Shihabi added.
He coordinates with China, India, Russia on oil, and with the UK and France as alternatives to the US on arms sales, he said, “while maintaining a hopefully solid but inevitably checkered relationship with his old friend , The USA.”.