Chinese state body lands US$54m Saudi surveying contract in latest sign of warming ties

“We have full confidence in all-round China-Saudi cooperation on geosciences in the future,” said Zhong, according to a report from Saudi state media. The Chinese contract totaled around the US $54 million for the geochemical survey, the report said and will be used to assess the distribution of mineral resources for future mining operations.

Chinese state body lands US$54m Saudi surveying contract in latest sign of warming ties
Chinese state body lands US$54m Saudi surveying contract in latest sign of warming ties

Chinese state body lands US$54m Saudi surveying contract in latest sign of warming ties

A state-run Chinese organisation has landed a US$54 million surveying contract in Saudi Arabia, bringing Beijing a step closer to a key energy supplier. 

“It is the beginning of a great cooperative relationship between the two sides and will surely open up new cooperative areas for both countries,” said Zhong Ziran, president of China Geological Survey (CGS) in a video call during the signing ceremony on Sunday.

“We have full confidence in all-round China-Saudi cooperation on geosciences in the future,” said Zhong, according to a report from Saudi state media. The Chinese contract totaled around US $54 million for the geochemical survey, the report said, and will be used to assess the distribution of mineral resources for future mining operations.

The contract is part of a six-year project to map and survey 600,000 square kilometres of the Arabian Shield, a region in the west of the country bordering the Red Sea, according to a report from the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

CGS’s contract will require the state-run organisation to conduct a geochemical survey of 540,000 square kilometres of the Arabian shield project, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

Other contracts associated with the project were won by Finnish and UK government geological organisations and companies from South Africa and Canada.

The Chinese contract marks deepening energy, but also strategic, cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia, amid uncertain US-Saudi ties, said James Dorsey, senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore‘s Nanyang Technological University.

“The Saudi-US relationship is shaky at the moment, and especially unclear ahead of the election,” said Dorsey.

“For Saudi Arabia, this contract is an easy way to throw a bone to China, but it must also anticipate that the US will step up pressure against technological cooperation with China regardless of who wins the election,” he said.