RIYADH: Future opportunities between Saudi Arabia and China are very big, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Friday during his visit to China.
Citing a 32 percent increase in bilateral trade last year, the crown prince added that high-level contacts were paying off in areas from commerce to security and defense.
"Saudi Arabia's relations with China can be traced back a very long time in the past," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told President Xi Jinping at their meeting in the Great Hall of the People in the heart of the Chinese capital.
Meanwhile, the Chinese president stressed his country's keenness on joint efforts with Saudi Arabia to support strategic relations between the two countries. He added that there has been coordination with Saudi Arabia on international and regional issues in recent years.
The crown prince earlier Friday presided over a China-Saudi cooperation forum that concluded with 12 agreements on cooperation in fields ranging from petroleum and the chemical industry to investment, renewable energy and counter-terrorism. Saudi Arabia is one of China's top crude oil suppliers and an important market for its exports.
Saudi Arabia and China also signed economic cooperation agreements worth a total of $28 billion at a joint investment forum. 35 agreements had been signed at the forum, held by Saudi Arabia’s investment agency SAGIA. Four licenses for Chinese companies were awarded at the forum.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also pledged Saudi Arabia's backing for China's gargantuan "belt and road" infrastructure project, saying he was willing to link it with the kingdom's Vision 2030 plans— a blueprint put forth by the crown prince to wean the kingdom off its reliance on oil, particularly as sustainable sources of energy become cheaper and more popular.
The Crown Prince's visit follows trips to India and Pakistan, which send millions of laborers to Saudi Arabia and are seeking closer economic ties.