Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Photo: Reuters / Lintao Zhang

Turkish daily Hurriyet writes Thursday that Saudi Arabian King Salman’s recent trip to Beijing was a big deal, not because of the US$65 billion worth of deals signed, but because of the two countries’ evolving security relationship.

Maintaining security in the Gulf of Aden-Red Sea corridor is essential for China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative, but Iranian efforts to expand influence in the region through proxy wars with Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the Horn of Africa threaten China’s vision.

Despite the country’s traditionally neutral stance in the region, China has recently declared support for Yemeni’s fight against Iranian-backed rebels. In another loss for Tehran, following the start of construction for Djibouti’s first Chinese naval bases, the country officially severed ties with Iran.

All these recent moves signal closer Sino-Saudi alignment on security issues. As Micha’el Tanchum writes for Hurriyet, this could be an opportunity for Turkey to engage China and play a greater role in the promotion of maritime security in the region.