Saudi Arabia’s King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion on the first day of a visit to Beijing on Thursday, as the world’s largest oil exporter looks to cement ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
The deals included a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between giant state oil firm Saudi Aramco [IPO-ARMO.SE] and China North Industries Group Corp (Norinco) [CNIGC.UL], to look into building refining and chemical plants in China.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Sinopec, which already jointly run a chemical complex in Tinajin, also agreed to develop petrochemical projects in both China and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s octogenarian monarch, who has overseen the launch of an ambitious economic reform plan since his accession two years ago, is on a month-long Asian tour.
The visits to countries that are some of world’s fastest growing importers of Saudi oil aim to promote investment opportunities in the kingdom, including the sale of a stake in Aramco.
Saudi Arabia has sought to boost oil sales to China, the world’s second-largest oil market, after losing market share to Russia last year, by working mostly with China’s top three state oil firms.
In Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People, President Xi Jinping told Salman that China was a reliable and stable oil export market and the two countries should deepen cooperation.
“For a long time, China and Islamic countries have respected each other and had win-win cooperation, and have created a model of the peaceful coexistence of different cultures,” Xi said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
Salman told Xi he hoped China could play an even greater role in Middle East affairs, the ministry added.
“Saudi Arabia is willing to work hard with China to promote global and regional peace, security and prosperity,” Salman said.