Saudi Arabia approved the decision on Wednesday to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a “dialogue partner.” The decision comes as Riyadh continues to ignore security concerns from the U.S. as it continues building a long-term partnership with the Chinese.
The SCO is a security and political union of countries throughout Eurasia, including China, India and Russia. Since being formed by China, Russia and former Soviet states throughout Central Asia in 2001, the SCO has expanded.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization now includes India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Iran will also become a permanent member in the near future. Observer countries include Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia. In addition, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey are currently dialogue partners.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, during the cabinet session approving the Memorandum of Understanding to join the SCO, Saudi King Salman also authorized the launching of vocational and technical training between the Saudi kingdom and China.
Reuters is reporting that Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman originally began discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping to join the SCO during Xi’s visit to Riyadh in December. The first step for Saudi Arabia is becoming a “dialogue partner” and then full membership will be granted in the mid-term.
Ties between the Saudis and Chinese have grown more vital than ever in the previous few weeks. The developing growth with China is pushing Riyadh further and further from previous partnerships with the United States.
Prince Salman also thanked China for mediating a rapprochement deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran hours before the Saudis joined the SCO. Salman extended his appreciation for the Chinese being a facilitator of “good neighborly relations” throughout the region.
Saudi Arabia and China also deepened their energy cooperation this week when state-owned oil giant Aramco agreed to purchase 10 percent of Rongsheng Petrochemical Company for $3.6 billion. The deal assures the Saudi kingdom will supply 480,000 barrels of crude daily to the largest integrated chemicals and refining facility in China’s Zhejiang province.
Aramco announced a joint venture last weekend with two other Chinese companies to build 300,000 barrels per day to a petrochemicals and refinery complex in the northeast of China. The deals will combine for an increase of up to 690,000 barrels per day between Aramco and China.
The new deals have led Washington to raise alarms, with the Biden administration issuing warnings concerning China’s “attempts to exert influence around the world.”