Perspectives on the Pandemic: Why Is the CCP Virus Widespread Among the Saudi Royal Family?

April 22, 2020 Updated: May 25, 2020

Commentary

The CCP virus has infected members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family. As many as 150 members of the kingdom’s Al-Saud ruling family royals are now believed to have contracted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, a novel coronavirus.

King Salman’s nephew, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is confirmed to be in intensive care due to COVID-19 complications, The New York Times reported on April 8. Prince Faisal is also the governor of Riyadh Region.

Why did the CCP virus strike the Saudi royal family?

The Epoch Times editorial article, “Where Ties With Communist China Are Close, the Coronavirus Follows” suggests that “the heaviest-hit regions outside China all share a common thread: close or lucrative relations with the communist regime in Beijing.”

On Feb. 3, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement, “Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud conveyed support for China’s efforts against the novel coronavirus outbreak.”

Prince Faisal’s praise came at a time when the regime was highly suspected of covering up the severity of the CCP virus outbreak.

Some netizens believe the actual numbers of confirmed CCP virus cases and deaths may have been accidentally revealed by Chinese media Tencent. For example, on Feb. 1, Tencent posted on its web page “Epidemic Situation Tracker” that 24,589 people died and 154,023 were infected with the virus, ten times the official figure at that time, according to Taiwan News. The numbers were subsequently lowered significantly to “official” figures.

Shortly after, Chinese state-media Xinhua News Agency reported that King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud expressed support for Beijing’s efforts in combating the outbreak during a phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Feb. 6.

Xinhua reported on March 28 that King Salman praised the Chinese regime for containing the outbreak in the mainland, and also said Saudi Arabia and China are friends that stick together through thick and thin.

A Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

Saudi Arabia and the Chinese regime have strong economic ties.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer and oil exporter. In light of petroleum being an important strategic material for energy and security, Saudi Arabia has a unique and significant strategic status to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

As the world’s largest oil importer, China imports 70 percent of the crude oil it refines and nearly half its natural gas consumption.

In January 2016, Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia. During his three-nation tour of the Middle East, China and Saudi Arabia agreed to enhance their bilateral ties and turn it into a comprehensive strategic partnership.

During the meeting, the two leaders agreed to build a stable long-term energy cooperation and joint effort in the development of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). A series of cooperation deals were also signed relating to energy, communications, the environment, culture, and science and technology.

The Chinese communist regime also recognizes Saudi Arabia as a key trading partner in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as One Belt, One Road).

As Forbes indicated in 2017: “It doesn’t take an expert in the geopolitics of Eurasia to notice that many of the countries that have so far received funding from the AIIB are located along China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But as the BRI, as of now, is more or less an infrastructure development mega-project designed to physically link together various political entities and economic blocs into coherent and organized trade corridors, this is still at root a multinational endeavor.”

In March 2017, King Salman cemented ties with Beijing by overseeing the signing of deals worth up to $65 billion, involving multiple sectors from energy to space.

An official statement, which was posted on Saudi state news agency SPA, “said the documents included a MoU [memorandum of understanding] for the kingdom to participate in China’s Chang E-4 moon mission and a partnership agreement for manufacturing drones,” according to Reuters.

On Dec. 7, 2018, a Long March-2D rocket carrying two satellites for Saudi Arabia launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, according to Chinese media.

In November 2019, both countries held a joint naval exercise in the Red Sea. The exercise aimed at “building mutual trust, enhancing cooperation between the Saudi Royal Navy and the Chinese People’s Navy, and exchanging and developing experiences in the field of maritime terrorism and piracy,” SPA reported.

The Belt and Road Initiative

According to a report by Oxford Business Group, “Saudi Arabia has emerged as the country with the fourth-highest number of BRI-linked projects by volume (106) and second-highest by value ($195.7bn).”

In February 2019, Saudi Arabia and China concluded the Saudi-Chinese Investment Forum with 35 joint bilateral economic cooperation agreements. The $28 billion deals were approved by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during his visit to Beijing along with several other senior ministers.

Then Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih took part in an interview with Xinhua in Dhahran on Feb. 15, 2019. When the connection between Saudi’s Vision 2030—its plans to reduce the country’s economic dependence on oil—and China’s BRI was discussed, “the Saudi minister expressed confidence in their in-depth integration,” according to Xinhua.

On Feb. 14, 2019, Powerchina, the largest Chinese engineering, procurement, construction contractor in Saudi Arabia, won the bid for Saudi Arabia’s road monitoring construction project. The project mainly includes the construction of more than 6,600 monitoring points, and 145 small base stations within the capital city Riyadh.

On Feb. 22, 2019, state-owned Saudi Aramco signed an agreement to form a joint venture with Chinese conglomerate Norinco to develop a refining and petrochemical complex in Panjin city, a project worth more than $10 billion.

On Feb. 24, 2019, Saudi Arabia’s National Housing Company and China State Construction Engineering Corporation signed a $666.7 million agreement to build more than 5,000 housing units in Riyadh.

These are just a few examples of how China and Saudi Arabia have cooperated on infrastructure projects in recent times.

Saudi Arabia Welcomes Huawei

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has played a key role in Saudi Arabia’s plans to diversify its economy into the technology sector.

In 2018, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) agreed to deploy a 5G network with Huawei gear.

Huawei Saudi Arabia officially opened its first flagship showroom in Riyadh in January 2019—its largest outpost in the Middle East.

In February 2019, STC signed the “Aspiration Project” contract with Huawei, which contains “E2E wireless network modernization and 5G network construction,” according to a Huawei press release.

In October 2019, Zain KSA, one of the leading telecom groups in the Middle East region, launched 5G services across the country via its Huawei-powered 5G network, according to a Huawei press release.

According to Zain, the first rollout phase of the extensive 5G network covered more than 20 cities in Saudi Arabia. It was supported by 2,000 5G towers, making it the largest 5G network in the region and providing opportunities for numerous sectors—such as financial, agricultural, tourism, entertainment, auto, health, and education.

On Oct. 28, 2018, Zain Group was selected by Huawei to become a strategic partner in the offering of “Huawei Cloud” services in Kuwait, and across the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).

Saudi Arabia Opens Confucius Institute

On June 10, 2019, the prestigious King Saud University (KSU) agreed to build a Confucius Institute on their campus.

Saudi Arabia’s decision and ties with the institute came at a time when many countries and universities were closing down the education organizations. As of July 2019, at least 13 American universities had dropped the Confucius Institutes. Universities in Germany, France, Sweden, and Canada have also successively severed their cooperation with the institutes.

Confucius Institutes have been known as a CCP tool to develop its soft power abroad and conduct spy operations.

On Feb. 27, 2019, the U.S. Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a bipartisan report stating that the Confucius Institutes are funded and controlled by the Chinese regime and demonstrate a lack of transparency and reciprocity with the United States.

The above examples are only a small sampling of the many economic and cultural ties between China and Saudi Arabia, yet they demonstrate the high level of cooperation among the top officials in both countries.

As British Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat wrote in an April 5 article in the Daily Mail, “The truth is that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed what many of us have known for years—that our economic dependence on China and kowtowing to its government comes at a very high price.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.