Saudi crown prince ignores Uighurs during China visit

Saudi crown prince ignores Uighurs during China visit

Saudi crown prince ignores Uighurs during China visit

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday appointed its first female ambassador.

Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, made the comments to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday during a visit to Beijing, the last leg of an Asian tour that included Pakistan and India, according to state-run news outlets. "Over such a long period of exchanges with China, we have never experienced any problems with China", he said.

The crown prince said Saudi Arabia's relations with China dated back "a very long time in the past".

"Riyadh wants to strengthen alliances in Asia - especially now with the continuing fallout with the United States over Khashoggi's murder and other issues, and attempts by the European Union to put Riyadh on a blacklist over money laundering allegations".

USA lawmakers have threatened to take tougher action against Saudi Arabia over the brutal killing amid claims that the crown prince was personally responsible.

After initially denying they knew anything of Khashoggi's disappearance, the Saudis finally acknowledged that a team killed him inside the consulate, but described it as a rogue operation.

Noting that the Arabian Peninsula is a part of the ancient Silk Road, Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia supports the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and hopes to align it with the Saudi Vision 2030 to deepen bilateral practical cooperation in various fields.

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Mohammed told the Chinese President they could join the two projects "to realise more progress and jointly confront challenges".

China is Saudi Arabia's largest trading partner.

National security is a potential area of cooperation between the Gulf state and China.

Riyadh has remained silent over China's treatment of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang.

The hush-hush approach reflects how China and Saudi Arabia have grown close over the past decade based on complementary economic interests, said Michael Clarke of Australian National University's National Security College.

Up to 1 million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to USA officials and United Nations experts.

Saudi Arabia respected and supported China's right to protect its own security and take counter-terror and de-radicalisation steps, the crown prince told Xi, according to the same report, and was willing to increase cooperation.

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