BEIJING – Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, will arrive here on Thursday on an official visit aimed at further strengthening the bilateral strategic partnership and economic cooperation.
During the first visit to China as the Crown Prince, Salman will hold wide-ranging talks with top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, Vice President Li Yuanchao, Premier Li Keqiang, and Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan.
Chinese leaders pin great hope on the high-profile visit of the Crown Prince as it comes eight years after the historic visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah that contributed in enhancing bilateral ties to the level of strategic partnership.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said that the visit would further deepen friendship and cement the growing relations and cooperation between Beijing and Riyadh in all vital sectors.
Saudi Ambassador to China Yahya Al-Zaid said that the visit reflects the strong desire of the two great nations to strengthen relations in the political, economic, commercial and investment sectors.
He noted that the Kingdom is the largest trade partner of China in the West Asia and North Africa region. At present, there are 140 Chinese companies, which are implementing projects worth SR67.5 billion in several fields such as construction, communications, infrastructure and petrochemicals in the Kingdom. There has also been a surge in the number of Saudis pursuing higher studies in China, reaching over 1500, Al-Zaid said.
“Crown Prince Salman’s visit is very important, and takes place at a time when the world is witnessing political change, most prominently in terms of economic alliances. The Crown Prince’s visit will serve to strengthen bilateral cooperation, particularly in terms of the economy, which remains the basis of Saudi-Chinese relations,” he added.
Talking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, a Chinese source said that Beijing sees the Kingdom as its major partner.
“China attaches great significance to the Kingdom’s role in establishing peace, security and stability in the Mideast region, as well as in resolving the Syrian conflict, Palestine issue and other major issues,” the source said.
Last month, the Crown Prince visited Pakistan, Japan, India and the Maldives as part of a tour of Asia.