Asia

Saudi king's visit highlights China's Middle East engagement

  • Saudi King Salman, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 16, 2017. Salman began a visit to Beijing Thursday that highlights growing ties underpinned by China's thirst for Saudi oil and the kingdom's status as a key link in Beijing's bid to connect China to Europe through infrastructure development. (Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP)

    Saudi King Salman, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 16, 2017. Salman began a visit to Beijing Thursday that highlights growing ties underpinned by China's thirst for Saudi oil and the kingdom's status as a key link in Beijing's bid to connect China to Europe through infrastructure development. (Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Saudi King Salman, center, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, arrive for a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 16, 2017. Salman began a visit to Beijing Thursday that highlights growing ties underpinned by China's thirst for Saudi oil and the kingdom's status as a key link in Beijing's bid to connect China to Europe through infrastructure development. (Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP)

    Saudi King Salman, center, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, arrive for a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 16, 2017. Salman began a visit to Beijing Thursday that highlights growing ties underpinned by China's thirst for Saudi oil and the kingdom's status as a key link in Beijing's bid to connect China to Europe through infrastructure development. (Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Saudi King Salman, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping wave as they attend the Road to the Arab Republic - the closing ceremony of the artifacts unearthed in Saudi Arabia at China National Museum in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP)

    Saudi King Salman, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping wave as they attend the Road to the Arab Republic - the closing ceremony of the artifacts unearthed in Saudi Arabia at China National Museum in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A visit to Beijing by Saudi Arabia's King Salman is highlighting China's budding engagement with the Middle East, which provides a crucial source of energy to fuel its economy and represents a key component in Beijing's bid to link China to Europe through infrastructure development.

Salman was holding talks Thursday with President Xi Jinping following a formal welcoming ceremony. His visit is part of a monthlong swing through Asia that has included stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Japan in a push to develop a less oil-dependent growth strategy.

Beijing is rolling out a trade and investment initiative across Central Asia and the Middle East called "One Belt One Road" and sees the desert kingdom as a regional linchpin.

The 81-year-old Salman will next visit the Maldives.