China deepens Gulf ties

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Beijing and Riyadh have discussed establishing a free-trade zone with the Persian Gulf states

China and Saudi Arabia are discussing the creation of a free-trade zone between Beijing and the member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Al-Arabiya reported on Friday, citing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We have discussed the creation of a free-trade zone between China and the countries of the Persian Gulf,” the crown prince announced, speaking at a Chinese-Arab summit that kicked off in Riyadh.

The Gulf states and China are also planning to cooperate on solving “problems of food and energy security,” and “…exploring the possibility of cooperation with China in the field of supply chains,” bin Salman added.

China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in the Saudi capital on Wednesday, holding separate talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi the following day. He is attending the Sino-Arab summit that will reportedly bring together 30 leaders of Arab nations and organizations.

China and Saudi Arabia have signed 12 agreements and memorandums of understanding on co-operation in hydrogen energy, judiciary, language education, housing, direct investment, broadcast media, digital economy, economic development, standardization, news coverage, tax administration, and anti-corruption.

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