January 18, 2023: Saudi Arabia should be keeping a tube amid the U.S. and China’s increased geopolitical tensions, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The words came between questions about what the minister was most worried about in 2023. He said for calm and cooperation, noting his city’s ability to keep an open conversation with even major political strengths amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, competition amid Washington and Beijing, and a volatile energy market.
“I think that focusing on teamwork, cooperation, avoiding more geopolitical tensions, and calls for calm and political solutions to geopolitical tensions,” al-Jadaan said.
“We made my position clear on these issues, whether in the general assembly in the United Nations or other forums.”
Questioned regarding Saudi Arabia’s ability to facilitate dialogue between adversarial forces such as the U.S. and China, al-Jadaan stated. “I would say absolutely yes. We have a lot of strategic relationships with the U.S. and a close relationship with China, and we always think we can bridge the gap.”
The Kingdom and the U.S. have a relationship dating back to the 1930s, broadly summed up as one of oil in exchange for security. The U.S. has military instalments in Saudi Arabia, selling advanced weaponry, training, and joint operations with the Saudi military.
The Biden administration’s almost stance toward the kingdom is getting some cold water on the closely century-old relationship of late, with Saudi Arabia refusing to pump oil for the global market to balance the loss of Russian supply, even pleas from the White House. The loss of Russian oil and gas to the Western comes from sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU more than Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, China has been making inroads, especially economically, as Saudi Arabia’s trading partner and a significant buyer of its oil. Riyadh’s relationship with China is more functional and economical than strategic, meaning it will not likely supplant the U.S.’s part in the kingdom anytime soon.
Therefore, Saudi Arabia has been buying more Chinese weapons, particularly those Washington has not wanted to sell its Gulf ally, such as lethal drones. Technology transfers and Chinese infrastructure projects are increasing in the kingdom as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to diversify his country’s alliances and make it more autonomous.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is coming to Saudi Arabia in December. The dual nations signed a strategic partnership deal that the Chinese foreign ministry called “an epoch-making milestone in the history of China-Arab relations.”