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Middle East looks Far East
China’s energy dependency is predicted to skyrocket over the next two decades; the GCC is ideally placed to reap the benefits.
May 16, 2010 1:46 by Katherine Azmeh
China’s increasing demand for oil is “astonishing,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said earlier this year, noting the 28 percent rise in the country’s January demand compared to the same month last year. As the biggest supplier of China’s oil, analysts expect the GCC will provide the country with more than one in every three barrels over the next two decades, according to Foreign Policy magazine.
Thanks to China’s skyrocketing energy requirement – which could double from 8 to 16 million barrels a day by 2030 – a new political and business dynamic is emerging. Against the backdrop of the nation’s enormous energy dependence, China’s Middle East relations are increasingly vibrant, injecting a sustained vigor into business dealings between the two economies that has lead one analyst to speculate on the development of a new “Silk Road.”
“China’s rise in the Middle East is as much about commercial as political interests,” says Ben Simpfendorfer, chief China Economist for the Royal Bank of Scotland, in Foreign Policy. “And that makes it important to use a different toolkit in analyzing its growing influence in the region,” he says.
China’s deepening involvement in the region may in part be a response to insecurities over a continued, stable supply of oil from the region, Simpfendorfer contends. He and other analysts have suggested a sort of “protectionism” at work in the mounting economic relations between the two regions. As its oil consumption escalates, China has an increasingly vital need to secure its position in the region.
Just this week the China-Arab Cooperation forum concluded in Tianjin, China, during which Chinese and Arab leaders agreed to develop relations and discussed a number of areas of common interest, reports Arab News.
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