BEIJING: Saudi Arabia and China signed 15 preliminary agreements on Tuesday in sectors from energy to housing on a trip headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at bolstering relations with a top energy customer and trade partner.
The visit is part of a broad reform drive to cut the kingdom’s reliance on oil exports and showcase Saudi Arabia as a dynamic international nation with diverse promising opportunities for global investors.
Prince Mohammed met China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Tuesday, state news agency SPA reported.
“During the meeting, the strategic relationships and future opportunities to enhance the existing partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China were reviewed,” SPA said.
Fifteen memorandums of understanding (MoU) were later signed between the two nations in different fields including oil storage, water resources, cooperation on science and technology, and cultural cooperation, SPA said.
In April, Prince Mohammed launched radical economic reforms designed to develop non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment. Chinese and Japanese banks and companies are expected to play major roles.
Prince Mohammed arrived in China on Monday on the second leg of a three-day Asia tour that started in Islamabad, Pakistan. He will then visit Japan from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
From Japan, the prince will return to China to chair Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the Sept. 4-5 summit of leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou.
Prince Mohammed is expected to present to the G20 his economic reform plan, which envisages state spending of around 270 billion riyals ($72 billion) in the next five years on projects to diversify the economy.
Saudi officials will also discuss energy cooperation agreements with Japan, the Saudi cabinet said last week.
Under Prince Mohammed’s economic reforms, Riyadh plans to sell a stake of less than 5 percent in national oil giant Saudi Aramco that could be worth tens of billions of dollars, and Chinese and Japanese money could prove crucial in smoothing the sale.
(Additional input from agencies)