Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cap off a whirlwind tour of Asia today when he begins a two-day visit to Beijing.
MBS has visited Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Indonesia over the past week in an attempt to rebuild his reputation after damaging accusations that he ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
While dealing with the de facto Saudi leader remains contentious in the West, leaders across Asia have embraced MBS, who has signed economic deals worth tens of billions in the past week.
In China, the crown prince is slated to meet with President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Han Zhang. Talks are expected to focus on connecting Saudi Vision 2030 with China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road program.
China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trade partner—some 15% of Saudi exports find their way to the Middle Kingdom, almost all of it oil-related.
However, while Saudi-Sino ties have strengthened substantially in recent years, Riyadh will continue to look to the United States as its principal ally and security partner. Trade relations have again flourished under Donald Trump, whose efforts to combat Iranian influence also puts the US in strategic alignment with Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, China’s warm ties with Tehran are viewed with suspicion by the Kingdom.
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Simon is the founder of Foreign Brief who served as managing director from 2015 to 2021. A lawyer by training, Simon has worked as an analyst and adviser in the private sector and government. Simon’s desire to help clients understand global developments in a contextualised way underpinned the establishment of Foreign Brief. This aspiration remains the organisation’s driving principle.