Saudi – China Summit Reignited Discussion on BRICS’ Membership

Saudi – China Summit Reignited Discussion on BRICS’ Membership
Saudi - China Summit Reignited Discussion on BRICS' Membership. Image source: Pixabay

A handful of countries have shown their interest in joining the emerging political-economic bloc known as BRICS, an acronym for its five members, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

It’s inevitable to view this renewed intention against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine as well as the ongoing rivalry between the United States and China. So far, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Nigeria, Venezuela and Iran have openly announced their intentions to apply for their BRICS membership.

Will Saudi join BRICS?

In Saudi Arabia’s case, nothing is official as of yet. However, the Kingdom’s BRICS membership is seemingly becoming imminent as President Xi Jinping arrives in Riyadh to attend the first China-Arab states summit as well as the high-profile China-GCC Summit.Saudi – China Summit Reignited Discussion on BRICS’ Membership

It’s likely that Xi’s presence in Saudi Arabia will further bolster the already implemented comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. Apart from BRICS, Saudi Arabia has also made its intention to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) known.

Opportunity for exponential growth

China is the world’s largest buyer of oil, with Saudi Arabia allocating some 25% of its total oil export to Beijing. The numbers speak for themselves; China is currently Saudi Arabia’s biggest trading partner as well as the source of growing investment. With the Kingdom looking to diversify its economy, strengthening its partnership with China means opportunities for growth in various sectors.

Since the Saudi Vision 2030 firmly places tourism at the forefront by way of mega-projects such as NEOM and Sindalah Island, a strategic partnership with China would provide additional means of development in the tourism sector. This, in turn, will likely encourage Chinese travelers to consider securing cheap flights to Saudi Arabia and enjoy what the Kingdom has to offer.

What’s in it for China?

From China’s perspective, the Saudi – China summit may provide the platform needed to reignite discussions over whether or not the yuan can be used for future oil deals and contracts.

Such an unprecedented move would more than likely be a game changer as it could potentially encourage other oil-producing countries to adopt yuan for their future exports. Essentially, such a discussion could lead to the Chines yuan’s position as one of the world’s major global currencies.

Expanding BRICS’ sphere of influence by way of aligning China’s interest with that of Saudi Arabia (and the GCC in general) would no doubt place China in a somewhat comfortable position of undermining the US’ hegemony and influence.

Whether or not Saudi Arabia will eventually go through with its claim of joining BRICS, it’s safe to assume that the allure of this political-economic bloc is becoming increasingly attractive for many countries during these uncertain times.