Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a three-day visit, his first since 2016, state media in the world’s top crude oil exporter, reported on Tuesday.
" The president of the People’s Republic of China is making an official visit to the kingdom from 7 to 9 December 2022 during which a Sino-Saudi summit will be held,” the official SPA news agency said.
According to the agency, Saudi Arabia’s King Salmane and Xi Jinping will co-chair the summit, which will be attended by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salmane, the de facto leader of the powerful oil monarchy.
The visit will also include meetings with leaders of other Arab and Gulf countries, SPA said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhane had announced in late October that the Chinese president was expected in Saudi Arabia.
Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia is likely to irritate the United States, a key partner of the Gulf's oil countries, which sees this rapprochement with its great rival China in a bad light.
Washington has already accused Riyadh of supporting its other rival, Russia, in its war against Ukraine, by keeping oil prices high, which the Saudis deny.
China is the largest importer of Saudi crude, accounting for about a quarter of Riyadh’s oil exports.
Xi Jinping was reappointed on 23 October as head of the Communist Party for a third term after a decade at the helm.