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Is Turmoil In Persian Gulf Aimed At Containing Beijing’s Access To Region’s Energy Resources? – OpEd


Though, I often reject conspiracy theories, but at times I also tend to believe those, which provide me an opportunity to get a better perspective. One such theory demands little probe; United States is creating turmoil in the Persian Gulf region to contain China’s access to energy resources of the region.

Since commencement of economic growth in 1993, China has become heavily dependent on imported oil from other countries. At present, it is the second largest energy consuming and the third largest oil importing country in the world. Despite Beijing’s efforts to ensure its energy security by diversifying its energy sources during the past years, the country is still heavily dependent on energy import from the Arabian Peninsula.

China has left its rivals far behind and became the second biggest economy of the world after the US. It seems that due Beijing is likely to leave behind the US in near future and become the world’s biggest economy. The White House has kept an eye on China’s development, its plans and initiatives and never been negligent in monitoring its ambitions and achievements.

Ever since Donald Trump became President conflicts between China and the sole surviving super power have widened from economic and trade to political and security conflicts. Now, the increase in Chinese power and global influence has become a major challenge for the White House. As a first step, Trump initiated trade and economic war against Beijing and in the next stage Trump wants to restrict China’s influence globally, particularly among the US allies.

To contain China, the US has resorted to many strategies and tactics such as destabilizing west borders of China with Afghanistan and Pakistan and trying to spread to central Asia aiming at thwarting Chinese ‘One road-One belt’ initiative that many experts believe will enable China to determine the word trade orders in the future.

China imports crude oil from the following countries:

  1. Russia: US$37.9 billion (15.8%)
  2. Saudi Arabia: $29.7 billion (12.4%)
  3. Angola: $24.9 billion (10.4%)
  4. Iraq: $22.4 billion (9.4%)
  5. Oman: $17.3 billion (7.2%)
  6. Brazil: $16.2 billion (6.8%)
  7. Iran: $15 billion (6.3%)
  8. Kuwait: $11.9 billion (5%)
  9. Venezuela: $7 billion (2.9%)
  10. United States: $6.8 billion (2.8%)
  11. United Arab Emirates: $6.7 billion (2.8%)
  12. Congo: $6.4 billion (2.7%)
  13. Colombia: $5 billion (2.1%)
  14. Malaysia: $4.8 billion (2%)
  15. Libya: $4.7 billion (2%)

Crude oil is the driving engine of Chinese economy and any threats to energy security will inflict a heavy blow to the country’s economic growth. The statistics show that some 43% of the crude oil imported by China passes through the Persian Gulf. Another 4.6% goes from Libya and Venezuela, the US destructive polices have already created a chaotic situation in these two countries.

Many experts believe that the US withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal not only aims at pressurizing Iran, but also to pressurize China to compromise in the trade war that Washington has waged against it. Any conflict or tension in the Persian Gulf region means a great blow to China’s economy. Therefore, many suspicious incidents and tensions created by Washington and its proxies in Persian Gulf can be termed as the White House measures to contain China in order to guarantee the US hegemony.

With its provocative actions and sanctions, Washington not only aims to buttress its support for Israel and its Arab allies by punishing Iran, but also intends to deny Chinese access to Iranian oil.  The fear of and rivalry with China is today one of the primary drivers of American foreign policy.

Interruption of the oil flow in the Gulf is one way to directly hurt Chinese interests.  The Trump administration is, therefore, playing with fire in Iran and a potential conflagration with China.

The rising tensions between the US and Iran are mainly caused by Tehran’s policy and Washington’s intolerance. Iran’s resistance to the US pressure is in fact shaping an equation in which the Islamic Republic indirectly contributes to the interests of China and even Europe. In a long-term strategic perspective, the dangers of insecurity in the Persian Gulf region, and the proximity of Europe and China to the region, heighten the need for greater coordination between Iran, China and Europe in countering the US hegemony.

There also seems a close relation between US created tensions in the Persian Gulf and containment of China, as Washington wants to exclude China from the region. Therefore, containing Iran is of crucial importance as China buys its oil. Therefore, China is likely to revisit its policy of balancing Iran and the US. Beijing may respect the latest sanctions on Iran, but resist any possibility of the US military attack on Iran. In my opinion the issue is not about Iran, but about China. I am convinced that the efforts are aimed at exploiting serendipitous opportunity.

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Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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