Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
China is the world’s most populous country with a population of about 1.4 billion. It is the second largest country covering an area of about 10 million square kilometers. Its landscape is very diverse with regions consisting of forests, deserts, subtropical forests and mountains, plateaus, many rivers and coastlines that stretch to about 15,000 kilometers. China is known to be the home of one of the oldest civilizations that stretched for thousands of years and was expanded and fractured many times until the foundation of modern-day China in 1911. From its official establishment and during the Second World War, China went through difficult times but China and its people were able to withstand and took an advantage of any cycle of prosperity. The Chinese people are known for their hard work, innovation, patriotism and patience.
China with its massive area and population was isolated from the world but its borders were flung opened when massive economic, social and political reforms were introduced during the 1970s. It is said that the first sign of opening to the world was seen through simple Ping Pong game that took place in 1971 against an American team which was followed by a visit by US President Richard Nixon. Few years later, China launched the most massive development projects the world has ever seen. Subsequently China became the second- largest economy in the world with new infrastructures. The country saw new airports, roads, high rises and mega projects that turned Chinese cities into the most modern ones in the world. And even with the constant growth, China connected to the world through trade and economy. But, this has changed in the past few years and China now is becoming a major political player that is connected to the world through strategic relations. And Saudi Arabia is one of the major countries that have established economic, agricultural, industrial, educational and political relations with China. Now, Saudi Arabia is the number one trading partner in the Middle East with China.
Saudi and Chinese officials had exchanged many official visits and just a few days ago and at the invitation of Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Kingdom in a historic visit that will enhance the Saudi- Chinese relations and will take it to new levels. At the end of the visit 14 memorandums of understanding were signed by the two countries that included cooperation in the fields of science, energy, education and research, which will increase the already strong relation between Saudi Arabia and China and their people.
The visit of the Chinese president to Saudi Arabia was closely monitored by the local and international media. Both countries can play a major role to help the world achieve stability and prosperity. And let us not forget the threat of terrorism, which is becoming a global threat with very dire impact on countries all over the world. Many see continuation of the Syrian situation as a reason for an increase in terrorist activities in the area and around the world. China’s influence along with Saudi initiatives can increase the chance for better solutions to end the ongoing atrocities in Syria.
This expanding cooperation will help Saudi Arabia, China and the area to overcome many of the current obstacles that are slowing the economic growth. Modern Day Silk Road can be a link between the East and the West that can increase the trade partnership among many countries.
And most important is that the Chinese president’s visit to the Kingdom will increase mutual understanding between the people of the two countries and boost relations between them. And finally, China’s president visit to the Kingdom will help China to play important roles in the region. King Salman and President Xi are both respected and experienced leaders with clear visions and dedication to play major roles to further seeing peace, stability and prosperity in the whole world.
Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Taking Saudi-China Ties to a New Level reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.