February 08
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Saudi Arabia and China showed deepening ties as a result of a series of strategic deals during President Xi Jinping's visit, including a deal with technology giant Huawei, Reuters reported.

King Salman signed a "comprehensive strategic partnership agreement" with Xi Jinping, who was treated to a sumptuous reception in a country that is forging new global partnerships beyond the West.

The Chinese leader's car was escorted to the royal palace by members of the Saudi royal guard riding Arabian horses with Chinese and Saudi flags.

The Chinese leader held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who greeted him with a warm smile. They entered the pavilion as a military band played the countries' national anthems. Xi Jinping proclaimed a new era in relations.

The reception was in stark contrast to the subdued reception given in July to U.S. President Joe Biden, with whom relations have been strained over Saudi Arabia's energy policy and Jamal Khashoggi's 2018 assassination.

The United States, wary of China's growing influence and ties to Riyadh, said Wednesday that Xi Jinping's trip is an example of China trying to exert influence around the world and will not change U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

A memorandum with China's Huawei Technologies on cloud computing and building high-tech complexes in Saudi cities was agreed despite U.S. concerns about possible security risks with the Chinese firm's technology. Huawei has been involved in building 5G networks in most Gulf countries despite U.S. concerns.

Prince Mohammed returned to the world stage after the assassination of Khashoggi, which marred Saudi-U.S. relations, showing defiance in the face of U.S. anger over oil supplies and pressure from Washington to help isolate Russia.

To further bolster his international credibility, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said Thursday that the prince and the UAE president jointly led mediation efforts that secured the release of American basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner exchange with Russia.

In an article published in Saudi media, Xi Jinping noted, is on a groundbreaking trip to usher in a new era of relations between China and the Arab world, the Arab Gulf states and Saudi Arabia.

China and the Arab countries "will continue to hold high the banner of non-interference in internal affairs, firmly support each other in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity, and jointly uphold international fairness and justice," he wrote.

Xi, who is scheduled to meet with other oil producers in the Persian Gulf and participate in a broader summit of Arab leaders on Friday, said these nations are a treasure trove of energy for the world economy and fertile ground for the development of high-tech industries.

Several regional rulers, including the president of Egypt, the crown prince of Kuwait and the leader of Sudan, arrived in Riyadh on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states said they would not choose sides between world powers and would diversify partners in the interests of national economies and security.

Saudi Arabia's energy minister said Riyadh will remain Beijing's trusted and reliable energy partner, and they will strengthen cooperation in energy supply chains by establishing a regional center for Chinese plants in the kingdom.

Chinese and Saudi firms have also signed 34 deals to invest in green energy, information technology, cloud services, transportation, construction and other sectors, state news agency SPA reported.  The agreements are believed to be worth $30 billion.

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