Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Strange Bedfellows: Xi, the CCP and the House of Saud

 Chris Zambelis

THE NEW LENS - 2017/03/08

While the wider Middle East remains convulsed by conflict and instability, China’s influence and interests in the region continue to expand in a familiar pattern. As the world’s largest consumer of energy overall and the world’s second biggest importer of crude oil, China’s Middle East policy continues to be driven by the need for secure sources of energy. The China National United Oil Company (Chinaoil), a joint subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Sinochem Corporation, alone purchased 7 million barrels of Middle East crude in January 2017 ( [New York City], Feb. 5). Unsurprisingly, China’s closest partner in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is home to roughly 18 percent of the world’s total oil reserves and is the world’s top exporter of crude. The two countries’ relationship was solidified in 2009 when China surpassed the United States as the top destination of Saudi oil exports. Although Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s number one supplier of oil in 2016, China’s reliance on Saudi oil will remain central to its energy security calculus (Gulf Business [Dubai], Jan. 17).