During the Third Belt and Road High-Level Forum for International Cooperation in China, a workshop in Beijing jointly hosted by Peking University’s Institute of Energy and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) focused on energy and sustainability collaboration between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The workshop delved into various topics, including the energy transition, clean energy, critical minerals, and the digitalization of energy systems. Experts and scholars from China, Saudi Arabia, and other international institutions participated, with a primary focus on strengthening strategic partnerships in sustainable energy between China and GCC nations.
The central theme of the workshop revolved around establishing strategic energy partnerships between China and the GCC, a region of significant importance within the BRI. This event took place just before Beijing hosted a major international gathering in support of the BRI’s 10th anniversary, which witnessed world leaders convening. With Saudi Arabia and the UAE recently joining the BRICS group, the existing ties between GCC nations and China are poised to grow stronger. The workshop aimed to create an open platform for discussions on innovative cooperation in sustainable energy involving multinational companies, Chinese enterprises, and governments.
A key takeaway from the workshop is the ongoing importance of the relationship between Saudi Arabia, GCC countries, and China in addressing climate challenges by finding a balance between the needs of the developing world and the Global South. Given the critical phase of the global energy transition, achieving a balance between energy security, economic growth, and environmentally responsible development is vital. Crucial to this challenge is the alignment between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Vision 2030. Such alignment can pave the way for the introduction of advanced renewable energy technologies, models, and experiences to GCC countries, enabling a broader population to access the benefits of clean energy.
Fahad Alajlan, President of KAPSARC, emphasized the transformative direction of China-GCC energy cooperation. China is diversifying its energy focus from conventional sources like oil, natural gas, and the chemical industry to a wider array of energy alternatives, including sustainable fossil fuel usage, renewable energy, hydrogen energy, and nuclear energy. GCC countries, as significant suppliers of oil and gas to China, offer a unique opportunity for developing clean technologies that can coexist with traditional energy sources. Given the current global geopolitical uncertainties, both sides must enhance their collaboration, particularly in conventional energy sectors, clean energy, and international energy governance.
Jin Zhijun, President of Peking University’s Institute of Energy Research, underscored the importance of aligning the BRI with Saudi Vision 2030. This alignment can facilitate the deployment of clean energy technologies in Saudi Arabia and GCC nations, promoting the adoption of low-carbon energy solutions.
Additionally, the workshop explored the substantial potential for collaboration in the petrochemical sector, a crucial component of energy source diversification and economic resilience enhancement. Ensuring a stable supply of high-quality fossil energy and finding sustainable ways to derive value from it is fundamental to transitioning society toward low-carbon, sustainable development. Technological innovation and accelerating the energy transition are imperative for all nations.
The workshop reflected a strong commitment to international cooperation in sustainable energy and marked a significant step forward in fostering sustainable energy practices between China and GCC countries.