China’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is growing as the country’s Cabinet has agreed to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The diplomatic move made by the kingdom began with a memorandum of understanding in September, and at the end of March, Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet approved the decision to become a dialogue partner. The Cabinet’s decision followed Saudi Arabia’s resumption of its relationship with Iran in a deal brokered by China.
Riyadh Joins China’s SCO; Kingdom Ends 7-Year Breakup With Iran
China, a member of the BRICS bloc, has been strengthening its relationship with Saudi Arabia recently. Several reports indicate that the Cabinet in Riyadh has approved a decision to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO is a union of Eurasian states established by China, and it is the world’s largest political, economic, and military alliance. Members include India, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, among others. In September 2022, Oilprice.com author Simon Watkins was the first to report that Saudi Arabia initiated a memorandum of understanding to join the SCO.
Amid Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet approval to join the SCO, the country revealed a renewed relationship with Iran and plans to reduce daily oil production. Senior Saudi and Iranian diplomats recently met in China to restore the two countries’ relationship. Iran reported that it would reopen embassies and consulates, and the two regions would revive trade deals. However, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Bill Burns emphasized in a report published by The Washington Post that the United States feels “blindsided” by Riyadh’s moves to work with Iran.
On April 6, Saudi and Iranian officials met in Beijing and resumed flights and visa issuance for citizens between the two countries after a seven-year breakup. Iran is also among nine dialogue partners, including Turkey and Qatar, as an SCO observer member. The United States’ request to become an SCO observer was denied in 2005. The SCO is led by Secretary-General Zhang Ming and is headquartered in Beijing. While China and Saudi Arabia’s relationship has grown deeper, the Kingdom’s bond with Russia has strengthened during the same period.
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