Saudi Arabia, China sign strategic deals as Xi visits

STORY: Hailing what he called "a new era" in ties with the Arab world, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a series of strategic deals with Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

The leader from China, the world's biggest energy consumer, received a lavish welcome from the oil-rich nation.

Xi's car was escorted to the king's palace by members of the Saudi Royal Guard riding Arabian horses and carrying Chinese and Saudi flags.

Xi also met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

The two stepped into a pavilion as a military band played the countries' national anthems.

The display stood in stark contrast to the low-key welcome extended to U.S. President Joe Biden in July.

Ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been strained by the kingdom's energy policy and the 2018 murder of U.S. based, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which overshadowed the awkward July visit.

On Thursday, King Salman signed a "comprehensive strategic partnership agreement" with Xi that, according to state media, included 34 deals for investment.

One of the deals included Chinese tech giant Huawei involving cloud computing and building high-tech complexes in Saudi cities.

The agreement was struck despite U.S. security concerns over using the Chinese firm's technology amid Huawei's growing foray into the Gulf region.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have said that they would not choose sides between global powers and were diversifying partners to serve national economic and security interests.