No menu items!

Saudi Arabia moves closer to Shanghai Cooperation Organization in new pro-Beijing move

By Santiago Vera García

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a decision to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in a move by Riyadh to build and entrench a long-term partnership with China despite US security concerns.

Specifically, the state news agency SPA confirmed that Saudi Arabia approved a memorandum to grant the kingdom dialogue partner status in the organization.

The SCO was founded in 2001 based on the Shanghai Five, which emerged after Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, and Tajikistan signed a confidence-building agreement in the military sphere on the joint border in 1996.

, Saudi Arabia moves closer to Shanghai Cooperation Organization in new pro-Beijing move
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo internet reproduction)

A year later, these five countries signed an agreement on the mutual reduction of armed forces in the border region.

Both documents were the basis for a cooperation mechanism in military matters in the border regions and contributed to new cooperative areas.

In 2001, following the accession of Uzbekistan, the organization changed its name from the Shanghai Five to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The organization’s main objectives are strengthening mutual trust and good neighborliness among member countries; and effective cooperation in various fields, especially political, military, trade, economic, technical, scientific, and other areas.

The body has been expanded to include India and Pakistan to play a more significant role as a counterweight to Western influence in the region.

Additionally, Iran also signed documents for full membership last year.

, Saudi Arabia moves closer to Shanghai Cooperation Organization in new pro-Beijing move
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (Photo internet reproduction)

Countries belonging to the SCO plan to hold a joint “anti-terrorism exercise” in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region in August this year.

Potential Iranian and Saudi participation in such exercises may generate repercussions in the West.

Joining the SCO was discussed during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia last December.

Dialogue partner status will be the first step for the kingdom before it is granted full membership in the medium term.

The decision followed an announcement by Saudi Aramco, which raised its multibillion-dollar investment in China, intending to finalize and upgrade a planned joint venture in northeast China and acquire a substantial stake in a privately controlled petrochemicals group.

The two deals, announced separately on Sunday and Monday, would see Aramco supplying the two Chinese companies with a combined total of 690,000 barrels a day of crude oil, bolstering its rank as China’s top commodity supplier.

Aramco said Monday it had agreed to acquire a 10% stake in privately held Rongsheng Petrochemical Co Ltd for about US$3.6 billion.

The deal includes the supply of 480,000 barrels per day of crude oil to Rongsheng-controlled Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp (ZPC) for 20 years.

The deals are the biggest to be announced since Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the kingdom in December, where he called for oil trade in yuan, a move that would weaken the dominance of the US dollar in global trade.

, Saudi Arabia moves closer to Shanghai Cooperation Organization in new pro-Beijing move
The Saudi Aramco logo is displayed at the oil facility in Abqaiq (Photo internet reproduction)

Riyadh’s growing ties with Beijing have raised security concerns in Washington, its traditional ally.

However, Washington assures that Chinese attempts to influence worldwide will not change US policy toward the Middle East.

In a deal brokered by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations earlier this month after years of hostility that had fueled regional conflicts.

Get advice on how to deal with customer support issues and questions at online casinos in Hungary

Beijing’s secretive role in the breakthrough shook up dynamics in the Middle East, where the United States was for decades the chief negotiator.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have expressed concern over what they see as a withdrawal from the region by the main security guarantor, the United States, forcing them to move to diversify partners.

With information from La Derecha Diario

Check out our other content