China US Middle East relations

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Drilling Iraqi Oil: Is China a free rider or a contributor?
Caoyu Xu
M.A. Candidate at The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s leading oil producers. However, instead of the US and its western allies, China has now become its biggest customer. The debate over whether China has become the biggest winner after US spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives has upgraded its popularity to a new level under the discourse of ‘China Threat Theory’, combining with Obama’s strategic pivot move to Asia Pacific from the Middle East.

Discourses regarding the geopolitical concern of China’s active moves in the Middle East are drawing U.S.’s concerns. China’s Middle East outreach now manifests itself in three relevant areas: energy security, maritime activity and, perhaps the most portentous, the numerous infrastructure projects linking its western regions with Central and Southwest Asia (1). To secure the shipment of its growing oil and natural gas import through the Indian Ocean and ‘Central Asia Corridor’, China is constructing pipelines from its Xinjiang Province to Iran, and port facilities in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc. All of these moves seem like attempts to pave the way for a major growth in Chinese involvement to attain regional hegemony through control in Central Asia, the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, in a way that not only challenges U.S. Naval power but also its regional security

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