China and Saudi Arabia will strengthen energy cooperation to maintain international oil market stability, as reported by Reuters on October 21. On the same day, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman and Chinese National Energy Administration director Zhang Jianhua had a video conference. The two officials agreed to deepen cooperation in the energy supply chain by establishing a regional hub for Chinese manufacturers in Saudi Arabia. The two officials also discussed cooperation in the fields of electricity, renewable energy, and clean hydrogen, topics also discussed during US President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia in mid-July.
China and Saudi Arabia enhanced energy ties amid the conflict between Saudi Arabia and the US. The OPEC Plus’s October decision to cut oil production in an already tight market received criticism from the West. However, OPEC Plus’s de-facto leader Saudi Arabia insisted that the move was necessary to respond to rising interest rates in the West and a weaker global economy. Meanwhile, the Saudi government emphasized the importance of long-term and reliable oil supply to stabilize a global market facing various uncertainties. According to Saudi state media SPA, Saudi Arabia continued to be China’s most reliable partner and supplier of crude oil. In 2021, exports to China made up 27% of Saudi Arabia’s total crude oil exports. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia received USD5.5bn of investments from China under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 1H22, making it the biggest recipient of BRI investments.