Saudi Arabia is seeking stronger cooperation with China on trade investment and energy flows rather than competing with the superpower, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said.
“We’ve recognized the reality today that China is taking over, has taken the lead and will continue to lead. We don’t have to compete with China, we have to work with China,” he told CNBC’s Dan Murphy. Arab-Chinese business conference on Sunday.
He added that there is value in working with China because it has taken the lead in getting the “right manufacturers”, especially in renewables. “We will never go into this zero-sum game again.
On why the OPEC kingpin is eyeing China, Abdulaziz said he believes China’s demand for oil is still growing and that’s the pie Saudi Arabia wants to get.
China is the world’s largest importer of oil, and the Saudis have emerged as China’s main supplier commodities in April despite cheap Russian oil being sanctioned.
In March, state-owned Saudi Aramco announced two major refining deals, supplying 690,000 barrels of oil per day to Rongsheng Petrochemical and Zhejiang Petrochemical. Trades followed Visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the kingdom last December.
“This does not mean that we will not cooperate with others,” the minister also said on Sunday, citing Europe, South Korea, Japan, the US and Latin America among the parties with which the country has trade relations.
The conference in Riyadh took place against the backdrop of growing economic and diplomatic ties between China and Saudi Arabia as the two countries navigate increasingly strained relations with the West.
The Saudi cabinet in March approved the decision to join the Shanghai Cooperation OrganizationChinese-led security bloc that lists Russia, India, Pakistan and four other Central Asian nations as full members.
When asked about skeptics criticizing the growing relationship between Saudi Arabia and China, Abdulaziz replied: “I completely ignore it.”
He likened trade deals to a pot that does not need to be divided between countries, saying Saudi Arabia “will go where the opportunities come. [its] way.” “There’s nothing political about it. There’s nothing strategic about it.”
“We’re Saudi Arabia, we don’t have to engage in what I call a zero-sum game. We believe there are so many global opportunities.”