CHINA / National

Saudi may set up strategic oil reserve in China
Updated: 2006-04-24 15:04

Chinese President Hu Jintao discussed a proposal to set up a Saudi-fed strategic oil reserve in China during a visit to the kingdom which has seen the signing of energy and defense deals, a Chinese official said.

The plan was raised during Hu's talks with King Abdullah on Saturday and both sides want to see it through, the official said, requesting anonymity.

The reserve would be on top of the oil supplies Saudi Arabia exports to China for its daily needs, and which reached some 22.18 million tons last year, he said Sunday.

The reserve would be set up in a coastal city in southeast China, to be used by Beijing in case of emergency.

The official did not say how much oil would eventually be stored in the reserve. But he said Riyadh and Beijing were discussing the feasibility of the plan and ways of cooperating to carry it out.

Hu toured the headquarters of state oil conglomerate Saudi Aramco in the eastern oil hub of Dhahran on Sunday.

China's Sinopec is building a refinery with Aramco in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian. Another joint refinery venture is planned in Qingdao city.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi has been accompanying Hu during his meetings.

The Chinese leader arrived in the oil-rich kingdom Saturday. Hu and Abdullah on Saturday presided over the signing of a series of agreements, including one between Sinopec and Aramco.

The agreement provides for strengthened cooperation in gas exploration and possible cooperation in oil exploration, a Chinese official said.

An Aramco statement said the agreement provides for an integrated refining and ethylene project in Fujian to begin production by early 2009.

It also stipulates that the two sides will further efforts to agree on terms for Aramco's participation in the Qingdao refinery project, which is planned to go on stream in 2008.

The Chinese leader discussed a proposed 5.2-billion-dollar energy venture in China with officials of Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC.

Hu also held meetings with Saudi businessmen, including one with billionaire entrepreneur Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who said afterwards he had been urged to increase his investments in China, where he is involved in the hotel and banking sectors.

In a speech Sunday before the Shura Council, an appointed Saudi advisory body, Hu urged the enhancement of dialogue and cooperation among all civilizations in a bid to build a harmonious world.

Efforts should be made to enhance cooperation among all civilizations and ethnic groups to promote the great cause of mankind's peace and development, Hu said.

"In order to build a harmonious world, we should endeavor to preserve the diversity of civilizations and courses of development, adhere to dialogue and exchange of views between civilizations, uphold the spirit of inclusiveness, allow cultures to complement one another through competition and develop together by seeking common ground while shelving differences," the Chinese president said.

Hu said all countries should acknowledge the differences in cultural traditions, social systems, values and courses of development of other countries.

In no way should we use these differences as a pretext to point a finger at other countries' internal affairs, nor should we blame any civilization, nationality or religion for the world's existing disputes and conflicts, the president stressed.

Hu was only the second foreign leader to address the Shura Council after French President Jacques Chirac, who gave a speech to the all-male body in March.

The Chinese president, who came from the United States, is due to leave for Morocco on Monday and go on to Nigeria and Kenya.