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Becoming China's number one oil supplier, Saudi deepens relations with Beijing

Saudi Crown Prince meets in Beijing with Vice-Premier of China on 22 February 2019 [Arab News/Twitter]
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman meets in Beijing with Vice-Premier of China on 22 February 2019 [Arab News/Twitter]

Two months since China's oil imports from Saudi Arabia fell 19 per cent, Riyadh has regained its preeminent position as the main supplier of crude to Beijing.

Data from China's ministry which gathers data on customs and excise duties, the General Administration of Customs, showed yesterday a 53 per cent increase to 1.96 million barrels per day (bpd), 8.06 million tonnes. That compares with 1.58 million bpd in July and 1.24 million bpd in August last year.

Imports from Russia stood at 6.53 million tonnes in August, or 1.59 million bpd, and 1.56 million bpd in July.

The UAE meanwhile has seen its position drop dramatically as shipments from Abu Dhabi fell nearly 40 per cent year-on-year. The UAE has dropped to the eighth position in terms of the amount of oil it exports to China.

Since the start of this year official data has consistently recorded zero imports from Iran or Venezuela. Both countries are under US sanctions.

READ: Head of UN warns China, US to avoid new Cold War

In March Saudi Aramco said that it will ensure China's energy security remains its highest priority for the next 50 years and beyond. Riyadh is also seeking to deepen ties with Beijing in the energy sector.

"The Kingdom has bolder ambitions to expand and intensify [our] research collaboration with China," Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told the China Development Forum.

Riyadh's close embrace of Beijing comes as the West seeks a new containment strategy for China, which is likely to present new challenges for the kingdom. Last week Australia, the UK, and the US signed a trilateral security pact.

AUKUS, as it's called, will see the US and UK assist Australia to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Analysts see the new security fact as a signal of America's pivot to the far-east, and its intensification of efforts to contain China's influence.

With Riyadh's economic growth depending on maintaining strong ties with Beijing for the foreseeable future, the Gulf state may find itself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Asia & AmericasAustraliaChinaEurope & RussiaMiddle EastNewsOceaniaSaudi ArabiaUAEUKUS
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