Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit that is likely to focus on energy ties as Beijing strives to revive its economy and Riyadh looks to expand its global alliances beyond its partnerships with the West, especially the United States.
Xi touched down on Wednesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Chinese and Saudi state media reported. The visit marks only his third trip abroad since the coronavirus pandemic began and his first to Saudi Arabia since 2016.
Both Saudi and Chinese flags were on display in Riyadh. Xi waved from his plane and was welcomed by Riyadh’s Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and the governor of the sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), Yasir Al-Rumayyan, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The White House warned on Wednesday that China’s attempts to exert its influence worldwide were “not conducive” to the international order.
“We are mindful of the influence that China is trying to grow around the world. The Middle East is certainly one of those regions where they want to deepen their level of influence,” said John Kirby, the US National Security Council spokesman.
It was “certainly not a surprise that President Xi is travelling around,” Kirby said, while adding that the US was focused on its own partnership in the region.
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