Xi Jinping to visit Saudi Arabia next week- Is the US sidelined?
Talks of Chinese President Xi Jinping visiting Saudi Arabia puts even more restraint on ties between the Kingdom and the US after Biden's controversial visit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is anticipated to pay a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia next week, and is set to be welcomed with a high-profile ceremony.
US president Joe Biden however received a low-key reception during his controversial visit to the Kingdom, reflecting the strained ties between the two countries and between Biden and the de facto Saudi leader, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
It is important to note, that China is the US’ primary competitor in the region.
Opportunity for KSA
Biden’s trip put Saudi Arabia back on the main stage, making it a global matter of discussion within hours. The Biden administration even called the trip a “really bad idea”, especially considering the “pariah status” of the Kingdom coming after journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, but the status was seemingly "put on hold" due to the US gas crisis and its need of Saudi crude oil to alleviate it.
Yemen even condemned Biden’s visit to the Kingdom, notably following the opening of Saudi airspace to Israeli flights and banning those coming from Yemen.
Still, Saudi Arabia sees an opportunity worth grabbing with the Chinese President's upcoming visit.
“China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trade partner. It is the largest buyer of Saudi oil,” said Mohammed Alyahya, a fellow at the Harvard Belfer Center’s Middle East Institute and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, commented similarly to that statement.
Yuan vs dollar for KSA oil export
Saudi Arabia agreed earlier this year to price part of oil exports in yuan to China, as China's General Administration of Customs released a statement disclosing that Saudi Arabia was China's top crude supplier in 2021. US Republican Senator Ben Sasse however has called this move “a big, bad thing” since this puts the hegemony of the US dollar at risk.
During his visit, Biden voiced that the US won’t leave space to be filled by China, Russia or Iran, but if Xi Jinping does visit the Kingdom next week, the US may have to step aside as Beijing is clearly aiming to strengthen its ties with Riyadh.