A workshop held in Beijing during the Third Belt and Road High-Level Forum for International Cooperation, jointly hosted by Peking University's Institute of Energy and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), focused on fostering energy and sustainability collaborations between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Experts and scholars from China, Saudi Arabia, and other international institutions convened to discuss critical topics, including the energy transition, clean energy, critical minerals, and the digitalization of energy systems.
The central theme of the workshop revolved around the establishment of strategic energy partnerships between China and the GCC, a region of considerable significance within the BRI framework. This event took place just ahead of a major international gathering in Beijing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the BRI, with leaders from around the world in attendance.
Notably, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE recently joining the BRICS group, the existing connections between GCC nations and China are poised to grow stronger. The workshop aimed to create an open platform for innovative cooperation discussions in sustainable energy, involving multinational companies, Chinese enterprises, and governments.
A key insight from the workshop was the ongoing importance of the relationship between Saudi Arabia, GCC countries, and China in addressing climate challenges and finding a balance between the needs of the developing world and the Global South. Given the critical phase of the global energy transition, striking a balance between energy security, economic growth, and environmentally responsible development is paramount. Essential to this challenge is the alignment between China's Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Vision 2030, which could facilitate 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, stressed the transformative direction of China-GCC energy cooperation. China is diversifying its energy focus beyond conventional sources such as oil, natural gas, and the chemical industry, expanding to include 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 significance 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.
Furthermore, the workshop delved into 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 an accelerated energy transition are imperative for all nations.