Medina :As Saudi Arabia seeks to expand its economic horizons and diversify from a largely oil-based model through collaboration and foreign investments, China is increasingly emerging as a natural partner of the Gulf kingdom.
China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, while hosting his Saudi counterpart Adel bin Ahmed al Jubeir in Beijing this July, called for “deeper alignment” between Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Riyadh’s “Vision 2030” development strategies.
In a sign of its increasing commitment to BRI, Saudi Arabia will build a mega oil city in Pakistan and take part in business and investment ventures complementing BRI’s flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), according to a senior Pakistani minister who clarified though that Riyadh will not join as CPEC’s “third strategic partner” as wrongly claimed by his colleague last month.
“The framework between China and Pakistan is bilateral and Saudi Arabia is not entering that framework as a third-party investor, rather the base of CPEC will be broadened and its pace will be expedited [by Saudi participation in related ventures],” Karachi-based The Dawn newspaper quoted Pakistan’s Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar as telling a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Bakhtiar added that Saudi Arabia will take part in the business and investment ventures that grow out of the 50-billion US dollar CPEC project, in which other countries will also be welcome.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who sat next to Bakhtiar on Tuesday’s presser, had on September 20 claimed that Saudi Arabia will be joining CPEC as its “third strategic partner”.