China sees ‘enormous potential’ in Saudi economy as crown prince visits – Reuters
What happened: Today, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi sees “enormous potential” in the Saudi emerging market, during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s two-day visit to Beijing. He is willing to support the kingdom’s effort to transition its economy away from oil and towards high-tech industries, outlined under Saudi Arabia’s state plan, Vision 2030, by enhancing the relationship between the two countries. China’s increasing involvement in the tumultuous region is intended to be “pure friendly cooperation,” the State Councillor added.
Why it’s important: Saudi Arabia has fallen out with many Western countries after its alleged implication in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the government. This has hindered its plan to make the kingdom an international tech hub. Its Future Investment Initiative conference in October was shunned by major players including Richard Branson, SoftBank and Siemens. The Crown Prince is now pivoting towards Asia, beginning his tour with a $20 billion investment pledge to Pakistan. The delegation includes top executives from state-owned Saudi petroleum company Aramco, whose long-awaited IPO worth $2 trillion is rumored to fund innovative renewable energy projects. Its CEO has stated plans for a key role in Saudi Arabia’s goal to become a “solar powerhouse,” one which matches Chinese ambitions. When the offering was announced in 2017, the company went looking for Chinese investors. The kingdom also holds a strategic position for the Belt and Road Initiative.