A powerful Saudi-Chinese partnershipFebruary 8, 2018
Li Huaxin, China’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, talks to TOGY about diplomatic relations between the two countries, the strategic parallels between China’s One Belt, One Road initiative and Saudi’s Vision 2030.
On the China-GCC Free Trade Area: “The construction of the China-GCC Free Trade Area has great significance and will further enhance bilateral economic and trade relations. In recent years, with the joint efforts of both sides, the China-GCC Free Trade negotiations have made substantial progress.”
On collaboration: “With the construction of One Belt and One Road and the joint promotion of Saudi Vision 2030, the two sides will collaborate extensively in the fields of infrastructure, manufacturing, economy and commerce, and financial investment.”
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How important are oil and non-oil trade for the two countries?
For a long time, crude oil trade has been the ballast of the China-Saudi economic and commercial relationship. The bilateral co-operation goes far beyond crude oil trade, however, and includes the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, nuclear energy, renewable energy and other low-carbon energies.
The Chinese side also looks forward to the Saudi Aramco IPO and the successful and energising realisation of Saudi Vision 2030. With the construction of One Belt and One Road and the joint promotion of Saudi Vision 2030, the two sides will collaborate extensively in the fields of infrastructure, manufacturing, economy and commerce, and financial investment.
What is the state of progress for the China-GCC Free Trade Area?
The construction of the China-GCC Free Trade Area has great significance and will further enhance bilateral economic and trade relations. In recent years, with the joint efforts of both sides, the China-GCC Free Trade negotiations have made substantial progress.
China hopes to intensify negotiations with the GCC. The earlier the completion of the China-GCC Free Trade Area, the earlier the benefit for both countries.
How strong are diplomatic relations between China and Saudi Arabia?
Since the establishment of the China-Saudi Arabia diplomatic relationship nearly 30 years ago, the bilateral relationship has achieved great progress. In January 2016, President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia and promoted the bilateral relationship to comprehensive strategic partnership level. During the visit, the two leaders of China and Saudi Arabia unanimously decided to establish the Bilateral High-level Joint Committee.
At the end of August 2016, [then] Deputy Crown Prince His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman visited China and successfully held the first meeting of the committee. This greatly helped to promote co-operation in various fields and achieved fruitful results.
In March 2017, His Majesty King Salman visited China. During his visit, the two countries signed a series of agreements worth USD 65 billion. Under the joint effort of the leaders of our two countries, the strategic relationship between China and Saudi Arabia has been continuously improved. New achievements have been made in political, diplomatic, economic and commercial fields.
How ready and willing is Saudi Arabia to participate and aid in China’s One Belt, One Road project?
One Belt and One Road is the road to peace, the road to prosperity, the road of openness, the road to innovation and the road of civilisation, which should be jointly built through consultation to meet the interests of all.
Saudi Arabia is an important country alongside the One Belt and One Road. The construction of the One Belt and One Road initiative alongside Saudi Vision 2030 will create a huge opportunity for co-operation.
In May 2017; His Excellency Eng. Khalid Al Falih, minister of energy, industry and mineral resources; His Excellency Mohammed Al Jadaan, minister of finance; His Excellency Eng. Abdullah Al Sawahah, minister of communications and information technology; and His Excellency Yasir Al Rumayyan, managing director of PIF from Saudi Arabia, attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Co-operation held in Beijing. The One Belt and One Road initiative and Saudi Vision 2030 will usher in a bright future.
What do you hope to see for the future of Chinese-Saudi relations?
I have served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia for more than a year and have witnessed the continuous improvement of China-Saudi relations. I am confident in the prospect of further co-operation between our two countries.
I will make every effort to push forward for more extensive co-operation in the fields of politics, economy, trade, investment, energy, science and technology, and the humanities. This will help deepen the friendship between China and Saudi Arabia and provide a larger contribution to the people of our two countries.
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