Snubbed by Biden, Saudi Arabia moves closer to China

by WorldTribune Staff, June 27, 2024 Contract With Our Readers

After nearly four years of frustration with the Biden Administration, Saudi Arabia sent a delegation of top officials to Beijing on Tuesday to discuss stronger relations and increased military coordination with communist China, reports say.

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman traveled to Beijing to meet with Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun and Gen. Zhang Youxia, vice-chair of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and China’s highest-ranking uniformed official.

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman met with Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun in Beijing on Tuesday. / Video Image

The Chinese Defense Ministry published a summary of Khalid’s meeting with Dong that said Saudi Arabia and China are ready to “raise bilateral military ties to a higher level.”

The now pro-China South China Morning Post reported:

China’s state-owned defense industry displayed the latest model FC-31, its fifth-generation fighter jet, and more than 30 unmanned aerial vehicles at the World Defence Show in Riyadh in February, hoping to ramp up exports to the region.

The Chinese and Saudi navies also held a joint counterterrorism exercise in October, against the backdrop of the Israel-Gaza war.

In addition to their growing military ties, China and Saudi Arabia have deepened their cooperation in a range of other fields, including artificial intelligence and infrastructure. has been chronicling China’s incursion into Middle East geopolitics and commerce with an eye to displacing the long-dominant United States.

In March 2023, in what was a devastating blow to Team Biden’s foreign policy, Beijing brokered a diplomatic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and its chief regional rival, Iran.

The deal reversed “years of work” by Joe Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump “to bring Arab nations together against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran is now openly contemptuous of international non-proliferation agreements and UN inspectors and is enriching uranium to near-weapons-grade at a record-breaking pace,” Breitbart News reported.

Related: Powerless IAEA now finally states 2015 Iran deal ‘means nothing’, June 25, 2024

Until recently, most of Saudi Arabia’s military technology has been purchased from the United States.

In February, Saudi Arabia became the first export customer for China’s high-altitude, long-endurance Wing Loong-10B drone, which China showed off at the World Defense Show in Riyadh.

The Biden Administration had been set to sign a bilateral defense pact with the Saudis which was expected to include formal U.S. assurances to defend the kingdom and grant Saudi Arabia access to advanced U.S. weapons. “In exchange, Saudi Arabia would halt its arms purchases from China and limit Beijing’s investments in the country,” The Diplomat noted.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, however, warned that ratification of that U.S.-Saudi defense pact looks “increasingly unlikely” as the political situation in the Middle East remains turbulent due to the Gaza war, and Democrats in the U.S. Senate will likely balk at any agreement that does not include firm support for ending the war and establishing a Palestinian state.

“Many Democrats likely will find it difficult to ratify without a commitment to a serious peace process, while many Republicans also likely will find an absence of normalization with Israel difficult to swallow. Gathering the needed sixty-seven votes will be difficult,” Carnegie predicted.

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