China willing to expand oil trade with Saudi Arabia, Xi says

China willing to expand oil trade with Saudi Arabia, Xi says

China is willing to expand oil trade with Saudi Arabia, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a visit to the kingdom that strengthened ties between the world's No. The top supplier of crude is the 2 economy.

Xi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanPrince Mohammed bin Salman have agreed to hold summits every two years as they upgrade the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The Chinese leader is expected to meet more Arab leaders on Friday.

The summit comes after ties between the US and Saudi Arabia have frayed over oil policy.

China will seek to strengthen coordination with Saudi Arabia on energy policy and exploration, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry. Saudi Arabia and Russia are the leaders of the OPEC, a producer cartel that pumps roughly half of the world's oil.

According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia's daily exports of crude to China have averaged 1.65 million barrels this year. That is worth around $130 million at today s prices.

As was reported earlier this year, there was no mention of the idea that Saudi Arabia might accept yuan payments for oil instead of the dollar. Diplomats and analysts said at the time the reports should be seen as a political message to the US, rather than the kingdom's plans, partly because the Saudi riyal is pegged to the dollar to protect against price volatility.

The two nations signed a slew of energy and investment pacts, though details were not clear. They announced plans to synchronize Xi's signature Belt and Road infrastructure program with the Kingdom's Vision 2030, which aims to wean the economy off its dependence on oil.

EXPLAINER: Understanding the Ups and Downs of US-Saudi Relations.

Xi and Prince Mohammed reviewed aspects of partnership and joint coordination efforts, the state-owned Saudi Press Agency said. Xi agreed to promote Chinese tourism to the Middle Eastern nation and expand cultural links, according to Xinhua.

The moves show a willingness to strengthen relations just as both countries are ties with the US cool. In October, President Joe Biden accused Riyadh of allying with Russia on oil production cuts, vowing unspecified consequences. The pacts included an agreement with China's Huawei Technologies Co. on cloud computing and high-speed internet complexes in Saudi Arabia. The Federal Communications Commission sounded off Huawei from the US market for telecoms equipment last month.

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