RIYADH: Chinese President Xi Jinping touched down in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a visit that is likely to focus on energy ties as Washington warned of Beijing’s growing influence.
Xi, recently reanointed as leader of the world’s second biggest economy, arrived in the capital Riyadh, Chinese and Saudi state media said, for a three-day visit that will include talks with Saudi and other Arab leaders.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar were among those who welcomed Xi at the airport, where a ceremonial purple carpet was laid out for his arrival.
China is Saudi Arabia’s top oil customer, and both sides appear keen to expand their relationship at a time of economic turmoil and geopolitical realignment.
The trip — only Xi’s third overseas since the coronavirus pandemic began, and his first to the world’s top oil exporter since 2016 — comes after US President Joe Biden’s visit in July, when he pleaded in vain for higher oil production.
It will feature bilateral meetings with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as a summit with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and a wider China-Arab summit.