King Salman and Xi attend the inauguration ceremony of the YASREF project in Riyadh. AFP PHOTO / SPA / HO
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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman Wednesday inaugurated a joint-venture refinery, symbolizing Beijing's deepening involvement in the Middle East and Riyadh's need for economic diversification.Billboards on a highway outside the ceremony showed Xi and Salman waving against a backdrop of the refinery.Saudi Arabia is China's biggest global supplier of crude, and state-owned Saudi Aramco says expansion into refining and chemicals fits the kingdom's goal of economic diversification. YASREF is one of five joint-venture refineries in Saudi Arabia. Sinopec's strengths in refinery and chemical technology would support the kingdom's drive to diversify its petroleum sector, said the company's chairman Wang Yupu.Salman in December said he had ordered economic reforms to diversify sources of income and reduce the kingdom's high dependence on oil.
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