Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Diplomats from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahran are on a five-day visit to China with the head of the GCC.

Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah al-Hajrah arrived in Beijing for a five-day visit.

The visit, which began on Monday, follows a spate of diplomatic activities by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, including a tour of Africa as well as visits to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Officials are expected to discuss strengthening ties with Beijing.

In recent years, China has sought to strengthen its ties with the Gulf states, with President Xi Jinping aiming in 2014 to more than double trade with the region by 2023.

State-run newspaper Global Times said the visit could also “make breakthroughs” in talks on a China-GCC free trade agreement.

The potential agreement was first tabled in 2004, with the two parties discussing the possibility of resuming negotiations in March last year.

The visit came amid unrest in neighboring Kazakhstan that raises concerns about China’s energy security. Beijing has long invested heavily in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas – rich energy industry.

Xi praised the Kazakh government’s deadly repression of protesters as “highly responsible” in a message to leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev last week.

He added that Beijing was prepared to “provide support” if needed, state media reported.

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