Saudi crown prince arrives in China

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman touched down in Beijing Thursday to begin the last leg of his Asia tour, designed to build relations and clinch deals as the kingdom faces a diplomatic chill in the West.

Bin Salman had already visited India and Pakistan during his week-long trip, announcing new investments in energy and infrastructure, before arriving in China — Saudi Arabia’s biggest trading partner.

The Saudi prince is due to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng on Friday morning, before sitting down with President Xi Jinping in the afternoon.

It is almost two years since his father, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, met with Xi during a tour of the region in March 2017. At the time, both sides agreed to “step up cooperation in all areas,” according to state media Xinhua.

Since then there has been a stark shift in Saudi Arabia’s international standing.

The crown prince has struggled to rehabilitate his international reputation following the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year. The crown prince has denied any connection to the killing.

The killing has soured the kingdom’s reputation in the West, forcing Saudi to turn elsewhere for a friendlier business environment.

At the G20 in Argentina late last year, when most leaders shunned Bin Salman in the wake of the Khashoggi murder, Xi was one of the few leaders to be