Li Wei, a Chinese diplomat in Riyadh, had only just seen off a Chinese Ministry of Commerce delegation to Saudi Arabia this month when he started preparing for another governmental visit in two weeks.
“Every month we have delegations coming to Saudi Arabia,” said Mr. Li, who works in the Chinese Embassy’s commercial section in the Saudi capital. “We are too busy.”
China, one of the world’s largest oil consumers, and Saudi Arabia, holder of about a fifth of global crude reserves, are forging closer ties as the Gulf kingdom responds to a Chinese drive to supply its rising energy needs. In November, China overtook the United States as the main buyer of Saudi oil, and Saudi Arabian Oil and Saudi Basic Industries are investing in refinery and petrochemicals projects in China.