Monday, March 6, 2017

Why is Saudi Arabia’s king spending a month in Asia? By Jonathan Fulton

The Washington Post - March 6, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz began a month-long trip to Asia last week that has taken him to Malaysia and Indonesia, with stops in Japan, China and the Maldives to follow. Coming after high-level visits between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Chinese government officials, the king’s trip is a further indication of the deepening of relations between Arab Gulf monarchies and East Asia. While trade is an important focus for the Saudi delegation, Asia’s growing role in Gulf security is going to be a major feature of the trip. 
China and Saudi Arabia’s new military cooperation 
The China-Saudi security relationship was emphasized during a visit to China by Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman in August, when Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said, “China is willing to push military relations with Saudi Arabia to a new level.” This took shape two months later, with the 15-day joint military exercise in Chengdu, where Saudi Special Forces and their Chinese counterparts trained together in anti-terrorism drills, hostage situations, extreme weather and relationship building at the nonelite level.