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China and Saudi Arabia Reinforce Economic Ties

The two nations’ economies have become increasingly intertwined.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Chinese President Xi Jinping invites Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to view an honor guard.
Chinese President Xi Jinping invites Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to view an honor guard.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) invites Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (left) to view an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 16, 2017. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at China and Saudi Arabia’s deepening ties, Germany’s far-right coup plot, and Indonesia’s controversial new criminal code

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Xi Visits Saudi Arabia

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at China and Saudi Arabia’s deepening ties, Germany’s far-right coup plot, and Indonesia’s controversial new criminal code. 

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Xi Visits Saudi Arabia

Chinese President Xi Jinping touches down in Saudi Arabia today to begin a three-day trip aimed at strengthening the two nations’ burgeoning economic relationship. 

Over the years, the two nations’ economies have become increasingly intertwined, with China emerging as Saudi Arabia’s top trading partner and Riyadh becoming Beijing’s biggest crude oil supplier. Outside of trade, they have also collaborated on technology and drones

Xi’s trip takes place at a time when historically fraught U.S.-Saudi relations have reached a low point, especially after OPEC+ decided to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day in October. Saudi Arabia reportedly led the charge even as the United States pushed for the opposite outcome, and an infuriated Washington vowed to “reevaluate” relations afterward.

When rumors that Xi would visit Saudi Arabia first surfaced in August, U.S. officials stressed that Washington’s regional commitment and influence were there to stay. 

During U.S. President Joe Biden’s July trip to Saudi Arabia, the message he “brought to the region is that the United States is not going anywhere,” said Tim Lenderking, the U.S. special envoy for Yemen. “The United States is a vital partner to not only Saudi Arabia but each of the countries in the region.”

Once Xi arrives in Saudi Arabia, marking his first trip to the country since 2016, he is expected to be welcomed with an extravagant reception. He will also participate in the Saudi-China, China-Arab, and Gulf Cooperation Council-China summits, with the China-Arab summit set to convene at least 14 Arab leaders, CNN reported.

The trip is expected to culminate in a strategic partnership” between China and Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi state media. Reuters reported that Chinese officials will likely also agree to other economic and security deals with summit participants.


What We’re Following Today

Germany foils far-right plot. German police carried out a series of raids at 130 locations across the country and arrested 25 far-right coup plotters. According to the Guardian, those detained include a 71-year-old German aristocrat, a retired military commander and former MP for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland.

Prosecutors noted that the group had a military wing that sought to overthrow Germanys democratic institutions and form a transitional military government, saying they had been planning a coup since November 2021. According to the Financial Times, former Bundeswehr soldiers were targeted as recruits. The group sought to acquire recruits among Bundeswehr soldiers and police and scouted out army barracks in southern Germany to see if they could accommodate their own troops after the coup, the Financial Times noted. The leader of the group, Heinrich XIII—a descendant of nobles who ruled part of Germany in the 12th century—had reportedly reached out to Russian officials for support.

Indonesia’s controversial new criminal code. Indonesian lawmakers have unanimously passed a controversial new criminal code that outlaws sex outside of marriage and publicly insulting the president, with the first offense potentially resulting in a one-year prison sentence. Living together before marriage could be punishable by a six-month jail term or as much as a $710 fine

The measures have alarmed human rights groups, who have warned of particularly worrying consequences for the country’s religious minorities and LGBTQ community. (Indonesia has banned same-sex marriage.) It is a “huge setback for a country that has tried to portray itself as a modern Muslim democracy,” Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, told the BBC. 

Argentina’s high-profile corruption trial. Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was sentenced to six years in jail on Tuesday for committing a $1 billion fraud while president between 2007 and 2015. She was also prohibited from ever holding public office again. She will likely appeal the ruling, triggering what is expected to be a protracted legal battle


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Keep an Eye On

Turkey’s NATO demands. If Finland is to receive Turkey’s support to join NATO, then it must remove its arms embargo on Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared on Tuesday. Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen is set to meet Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Thursday.

“The Finnish defense minister’s visit to Turkey is important because we have not yet heard a statement from Finland saying they’ve lifted their arms embargo against us,” Cavusoglu said. “We’re expecting such a statement from there.”

Jamaica cracks down on gang violence. In an effort to combat gang violence, the Jamaican government announced a state of emergency on Tuesday, which would enable police to make arrests and searches without first having a warrant. After declaring a partial state of emergency, Honduras has also temporarily halted certain constitutional rights to crack down on gangs.


Wednesday’s Most Read

Europeans Have Weapons but Aren’t Warriors by Alexis Carré

Sanctions on Russia Are Working. Here’s Why. by Agathe Demarais

Why Switzerland vs. Serbia Is Really All About Kosovo by Aleks Eror


Odds and Ends 

Amy Joseph, an American woman, filed a lawsuit against TGI Friday’s and manufacturer Inventure Foods after purchasing a bag of TGI Friday’s Mozzarella Sticks Snacks—only to find that they were not, in fact, made with any mozzarella

Despite both companies’ efforts to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge Robert Dow Jr. determined that the case can continue, albeit only against Inventure Foods. TGI Friday’s was just a “licensor,” he ruled. “We intend to proceed against Inventure Foods on behalf of the nationwide class of purchasers of TGI Friday’s mozzarella sticks,” Joseph’s lawyer, Thomas Zimmerman, told USA Today.

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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