Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Saudi king’s visit puts Beijing in Middle East spotlight

Beijing and Riyadh do not see eye to eye on conflict in Syria, analysts say

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Tuesday, 14 March, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman begins his first official visit to Beijing on Wednesday, placing China’s increasingly active role in the Middle East in the spotlight once again.  The visit by King Salman, arguably the most strategically significant leg of his month-long, six-nation tour of Asia, comes as Beijing has intensified its diplomatic efforts and become increasingly vocal on many of the region’s hotspots, especially the Syria, in a bid to expand its influence in the Middle East. China sided with Russia last month to block a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have imposed new sanctions on the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against its own people.  It was the sixth veto cast by Beijing during the six-year Syrian conflict to protect the Assad regime from tougher international punishment.  Chinese diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said China’s firm stance on Syria, along with King Salman’s visit, demonstrated the country’s growing confidence in its ability to project power in a multipolar world.