China has signaled its support for Yemen ' s government, on the first day of a visit to Saudi Arabia by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will also be heading to Tehran later in the week. A Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign last year against Houthi movement in Yemen, which has seized the capital, Sanaa. The government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is now based in the southern city of Aden. Riyadh sees the Houthis as a way to expand its influence in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation. The Houthis say they are waging a revolution against a corrupt government and Gulf Arab powers beholden to the West. Saudi Arabia and China said in a statement on Wednesday that the two countries affirmed their support for the unity, independence and sovereignty of Yemen. The statement was released by China's Foreign Ministry after Xi met Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on Tuesday. All social, religious and political groups in Yemen should maintain their national solidarity and avoid any decisions that may cause social disruption and chaos, it said. "Both sides stressed support for the legitimate regime of Yemen," the statement said. China relies on the region for oil but has tended to leave Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Britain, France and Russia. However, China has been trying to get more involved, especially in Syria, and recently hosted its foreign minister and opposition officials. China and Saudi Arabia expressed deep concern about Syria and renewed a call for a peaceful political settlement as soon as possible. Xi is expected in Iran later in the week, with a further stop in Egypt after he leaves Saudi Arabia.