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China, Saudi Arabia forge closer relationship
(Agencies - chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2006-01-24 11:34

Analysts said King Abdullah's choice of China as the first country of his Asian tour, which will also take in India, Malaysia and Pakistan, was a strategically sound move.

"China has the fastest growing market and Saudi Arabia has the right product to sell," said a Hong Kong-based oil analyst who requested anonymity.

Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at People's University in Beijing, said China had "a very focused interest in Saudi Arabia".

"China wants secure sources of oil," Shi said.

Among other energy deals already in place, China's Sinopec is drilling for gas in the Saudi desert and building a refinery with Saudi oil firm Saudi Aramco in China's Fujian province. Aramco is also beginning engineering work with Sinopec on a second refinery in China's Qingdao city.

Despite the growing bilateral ties, Shi said neither China nor the Saudis would want to alarm the United States. "China will be very cautious, it won't buy oilfields in Saudi Arabia. That would make the US very sensitive," Shi said.

Saudi Arabia is now engaged in a series of economic reforms, especially the privatization of its state-owned firms. The country wants to diversify it economy and sources of income for the coming generations, said ambassador Hegelan.

¡°It is like any other country, we do not want to rely on just one source of income. And these reforms will also help us create more jobs, and lure more foreign investors to Saudi Arabia as well.¡± Chinese businessmen are welcome to invest in his country, Hegelan said.

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