Thursday, March 19, 2015

Soft power - China's expanding role in the Middle East

As China's economic and political clout grows, so does the nation's role in the Middle East. The country has already overtaken the US as the largest oil importer. But can Beijing also bring stability to the region?

DEUTSCHE WELLE - 04.02.2015

With conflicts raging from Iran to Palestine and Syria to Iraq, the events unfolding in the Middle East are also being closely followed by Beijing. And there is good reason for China's interest in the Middle East. For the past two decades, China has been engaging with the region for the same main reason as other rising powers have: oil. More than half of China's oil imports - some 2.9 million barrels per day - come from this part of the world. And like other growing, industrializing powers, China needs the energy resources to power its economic expansion.
Even as China has focused on diversifying its energy suppliers by increasingly looking to Russia and Central Asia for oil and gas, any instability in the Middle East heavily impacts global prices, thus harming a net importer of energy like China, which surpassed the US as the world's largest importer in late 2013, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Oil is key
Driven by the rapid growth in oil and gas imports, Chinese trade with the Middle East has risen from around 20 billion USD a decade ago to an estimated 230 billion USD last year, with the trade volume expected to exceed 500 billion USD by 2020.