(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
President Xi Jinping told Gulf Arab leaders on Friday that China
would work to buy oil and gas in yuan, a move that would support
Beijing's goal to establish its currency internationally and weaken
the U.S. dollar's grip on world trade, trend reports citing
Xi was speaking in Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman hosted two 'milestone' Arab summits with the Chinese leader
which showcased the powerful prince's regional heft as he courts
partnerships beyond close historic ties with the West.
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and economic giant China both sent
strong messages during Xi's visit on 'non-interference' at a time
when Riyadh's relationship with Washington has been tested over
human rights, energy policy and Russia.
Any move by Saudi Arabia to ditch the dollar in its oil trade
would be a seismic political move, which Riyadh had previously
threatened in the face of possible U.S. legislation exposing OPEC
members to antitrust lawsuits.
China's growing influence in the Gulf has unnerved the United
States. Deepening economic ties were touted during Xi's visit,
where he was greeted with pomp and ceremony and on Friday met with
Gulf states and attended a wider summit with leaders of Arab League
countries spanning the Gulf, Levant and Africa.
At the start of Friday's talks, Prince Mohammed heralded a
'historic new phase of relations with China', a sharp contrast with
the awkward U.S.-Saudi meetings five months ago when President Joe
Biden attended a smaller Arab summit in Riyadh.
Asked about his country's relations with Washington in light of
the warmth shown to Xi, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan
Al Saud said Saudi Arabia would continue to work with all its
partners. 'We don't see this as a zero sum game,' he said.
'We do not believe in polarisation or in choosing between
sides,' the prince told a news conference after the talks.
Though Saudi Arabia and China signed several strategic and
economic partnership deals, analysts said relations would remain
anchored mostly by energy interests, though Chinese firms have made
forays into technology and infrastructure sectors.
'Energy concerns will remain front and centre of relations,'
Robert Mogielnicki, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States
Institute in Washington, told Reuters.
'The Chinese and Saudi governments will also be looking to
support their national champions and other private sector actors to
move forward with trade and investment deals. There will be more
cooperation on the tech side of things too, prompting familiar
concerns from Washington.'
Saudi Arabia agreed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei
this week on cloud computing and building high-tech complexes in
Saudi cities. The Chinese tech giant has participated in building
5G networks in Gulf states despite U.S. concerns over a possible
security risk in using its technology.