BEIJING, China: This week, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain are visiting China for meetings with officials.
China, the world's second largest economy, is a leading consumer of oil and source of foreign investments in the Middle East.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the visits were expected to "deepen relations between the two sides," but gave no details of their agendas.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, Omani Foreign Minister Badr Albusaidi, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani are scheduled to take part in meeting Chinese officials.
The meetings will also involve Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf, as well as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, who will be in China at the end of the week, ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said in Tehran.
However, it is uncertain if Amirabdollahian will join the Arab ministers.
China and the U.S. are competing for influence in the Middle East, where Chinese companies have found markets for goods and services, ranging from building highways to selling military drones.
China's economy is heavily reliant on Middle Eastern oil and gas, and Beijing has maintained close ties with Iran, despite its nuclear ambitions and disputes with other Gulf nations.
At a daily briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China and the Gulf nations have "provided each other with firm support on issues concerning their core interests, and have promoted practical cooperation in various fields with fruitful results.