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China-Saudi relations at best stage ever
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13:21, June 21, 2008

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Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in Riyadh Saturday for an official visit at the invitation of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz.

Xi's visit comes at a time when bilateral relations are at their best stage ever, and is expected to further boost the friendly, cooperative relationship between China and Saudi Arabia.

The Chinese leader is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan, and hold in-depth discussions on bilateral issues, and international and regional affairs of common concern.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1990, bilateral ties have witnessed smooth and rapid development, helped by the joint efforts of the leaders, the governments and people of both countries.

Mutual political trust has continued to deepen, along with marked reinforcement in communication and cooperation in sectors such as trade, energy, culture, education, health care and religion.

The two countries hold a shared perspective on many major international and regional issues, and have maintained coordination and cooperation in international affairs.

The heads of the two nations exchanged visits in 2006. King Abdullah visited China in January, while Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a return visit in April the same year.

The leaders reached agreements on developing the friendly and cooperative strategic partnership, turning a new page in bilateral ties.

The two nations have great potential in cooperation related to trade, energy, construction contracts and mutual investment.

Saudi Arabia is China's largest trading partner in West Asia and North Africa, while China is Saudi Arabia's fourth largest trading partner.

Bilateral trade volume reached 25 billion U.S. dollars in 2007,more than 80 times that in the 1990s.

In the first quarter this year, China-Saudi Arabia trade volume registered a year-on-year increase of 77.4 percent, to reach 8.5 billion dollars.

In the field of energy cooperation, the two nations have entered a new phase focusing on crude oil trade, joint oil and gas projects, and mutual investment.

In 2007, China imported 25 million tons of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, one of its major oil providers.

The two nations are also witnessing enhanced cultural, educational and religious cooperation and exchange, which has deepened understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

In 2006, a Saudi Arabian cultural delegation attended the Arabic Arts Festival in China. The following year, the second workshop of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, under the thesis of China-Arab Civilization Dialogue, was held in Riyadh.

Besides, about 200 Saudi students are currently studying in China under the King Abdullah Scholarship.

The two nations' mutual friendship is also well reflected in the aid provided by Saudi Arabia to China following the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province on May 12.

Shortly after the disaster, the Saudi Arabian government provided 50 million U.S. dollars in aid and relief materials worth10 million dollars for those affected.

Both sides agree that bilateral ties are currently enjoying their best era in history.

Saudi Arabia is the third leg of the Chinese vice president's ongoing five-nation tour. He has completed official visits to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Mongolia, and will next head to Qatar and Yemen.


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