Saudi Arabia has agreed to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a “dialogue partner”, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in 2001 as a political, economic, and security organization to rival Western institutions.
Besides China, its eight members include India, Pakistan, and Russia, as well as four central Asian countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
The cabinet approved the decision at a meeting on Tuesday chaired by King Salman, SPA reported.
The decision followed an announcement by Saudi Aramco, which raised its multibillion-dollar investment in China on Tuesday, by finalising a planned joint venture in northeast China and acquiring a stake in a privately controlled petrochemical group.
Read more: Saudi Aramco, China sign $12.2 bn oil refinery deal
China is a major consumer of hydrocarbon-reliant Saudi Arabia’s oil exports, with the two countries making significant inroads in each other’s petrochemical sectors.
Beijing is Riyadh’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $87.3 billion in 2021, according to Reuters.
By the year 2011, China had surpassed the U.S. for the first time in bilateral trade value with Saudi Arabia. Then by 2018, trade between China and Saudi Arabia surpassed the Middle-Eastern country’s trade with the entire EU.
Fast forward to today, and China has emerged as a larger trading partner with Saudi Arabia than the rest of the West combined, according to Visual Capitalist.
The SPA December 2022 report revealed that the volume of trade exchange between Saudi and China reached 304.3 billion riyals in 2021, up 37 percent from 221.6 billion riyals in 2020. Saudi exports to China increased by 59 percent that year, while imports climbed by 12 percent.
Saudi and Chinese companies signed 34 investment agreements during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Kingdom in December 2022.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Chinese President sides expressed their satisfaction with the distinguished stages that bilateral relations have gone through over the past three decades in a joint statement at the Saudi-Chinese summit.
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