Noodle time: What the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to China really means

Flags of Saudi Arabia and China in front of Tiananmen Gate before Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Beijing

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) continues to exchange pleasantries with his hosts in China — that festival of optimism ends today, Friday, February 22 — but what does it really mean?

Three things, at the very least.

** MBS is demonstrating that he has options beyond the West, as Ayham Kamel, Middle East and North Africa expert with the Eurasia Group, puts it.

** China is demonstrating it can have a robust relationship with the leader of the ummah, the worldwide Muslim community, despite its treatment of its Muslim Uighurs. This is important, according to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Riyadh.

** And China and Saudi Arabia are pleased to demonstrate their collaboration on Pakistan in terms of investment and warm words. By implication, they show India it isn’t the biggest kid on the South Asian playground.

That’s a big deal.

Originally published at on February 22, 2019.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store