China in the Middle East

Two articles about China’s interests in the Persian Gulf region. First, from AP, an article about a renewed oil contract between China and Iraq first negotiated under Saddam Hussein:

China and Iraq are reviving a 1997 deal worth US$1.2 billion (‚Ǩ850 million) signed by Beijing and Saddam Hussein’s government to develop an Iraqi oil field, Baghdad’s oil minister said Saturday.

Officials will meet next month to renegotiate the agreement over the al-Ahdab field, said Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani. He was wrapping up a three-nation tour to secure investment to revive his country’s oil industry…

State-owned China National Petroleum Corp. signed the al-Ahdab deal in the midst of U.N. sanctions that barred direct dealings with Iraq’s oil industry. Beijing was waiting for sanctions to end when the U.S. invasion in 2003 overthrew Saddam’s government. [Full Text]

And from Power and Interest News Report, a look into China’s increasing interests in the whole Gulf region:

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Whereas Chinese policies are clearly aimed at securing access to oil that is so vital to China’s power hungry and rapidly growing economy, energy is not the only agent that is driving China’s diplomatic offensive. China is also seeking to gain a foothold in a region that increasingly resents the U.S. presence. In doing so, China hopes to gently challenge American control by having greater influence in the region, which would complement and project China’s global ambitions. Beijing has been for a long time what historian John Gittings calls a “status-quo power that often punches below its weight in international politics.” China’s policy toward the G.C.C. is one element in Beijing’s overall goal of addressing this. [Full Text]


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