China Offers Free Trade Zone With Gulf Amid US-Saudi Rift

Amid souring U.S.-Saudi ties, Xi Jinping‘s minister is looking to shore up the Crown Prince on his side by offering to build stronger ties with the Gulf nation.

What Happened: China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang offered to set up a China-Gulf free trade zone “as soon as possible,” the Chinese ministry said in a statement published late on Monday. 

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Qin – who was recently named to the position – held a telephone conversation with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. He also appreciated Riyadh’s consistent support on issues involving Beijing’s core interests.

The Chinese foreign minister, pressing for continuously strengthening the China-Gulf strategic partnership, said the two nations should further expand cooperation on economy, trade, energy, infrastructure, investment, finance, and high technology.

Meanwhile, Prince Faisal said Riyadh regards relations with China as an important cornerstone of foreign relations and that the Middle-Eastern nation fully adheres to the one-China principle.

The U.S.-Saudi relationship faced serious challenges under the Biden Administration in the past few years. And ongoing Russia–Ukraine war and Gulf Cooperation Council growing ties with Russia and China only worsened things. 

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