ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will benefit from stronger Saudi-China relations, experts said on Wednesday, as the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Kingdom was expected to bring in more investment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
Xi arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday for a three-day visit aimed at bolstering trade ties and expected to lead to a “strategic agreement” between the regional powers.
The Chinese leader was due to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other heads of state from Gulf Arab nations when Saudi Arabia hosts China-Gulf and China-Arab summits in its capital.
Saudi Arabia and China were expected to sign more than 20 initial agreements worth more than $29.3 billion during Xi’s trip. The two countries were also discussing a plan to harmonize the implementation of Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
CPEC, a $65 billion economic corridor in Pakistan that connects China to the Arabian Sea and is part of Beijing’s infrastructure initiative, was also expected to feature in Xi’s meetings with the crown prince.
“Saudi Arabia is interested in becoming part of CPEC by investing heavily in it and also interested in BRI and this visit will improve things in this regard as China is the main initiator of both mega projects,” Pakistan’s former ambassador to China, Naghmana Hashmi, told Arab News.
Saudi Arabia, alongside the UAE and Germany, is among countries that have expressed interests in investing in CPEC. In 2019, the Kingdom announced plans to set up a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s deep-water port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.
CPEC is a sprawling package that includes everything from road construction and power plants to agriculture. In the South Asian nation, it has been billed as a massive development program that will bring new prosperity, where the average citizen lives on just $125 a month.
“The growing friendship between China and Saudi Arabia will benefit Pakistan as the country has very good relations with both, and both are pillars of strength for us,” Hashmi said.
International relations expert Zafar Jaspal told Arab News that the visit would have a “constructive and positive impact on CPEC” and “open the way for Saudi investment.”
Xi’s trip to Riyadh could serve as a “great convergence point” between Pakistan, China, and Saudi Arabia, according to Dr. Huma Baqai, an international relations expert and rector of the Millennium Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship in Karachi.
“The visit can give the requisite push and momentum to the intended Saudi investment in the flagship project of the BRI,” she told Arab News.