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Summary: For several years to come, both China and the United States will maintain high interests in the Middle East, with "Energy Security" being the main key driver for the former, and "Geopolitics of Energy" for the latter

Due to a phenomenal economic growth rate of 8-10 per cent a year, China's thirst for energy is growing rapidly and is expected to double by 2020 and even quadruple by 2050. China is expected to outpace US as the world's top oil importer sometime after 2030. For the time being, Chinese economy is mainly coal-based (70 per cent). However, drastic CO2 emissions is pushing China towards energy substitution, i.e., from coal to oil and gas at the first stage (to 2030), and to renewable energy at a later stage (to 2050).

The US vs. Chinese Middle East policy is passing through a very crucial stage and such conditions are expected to continue until 2030. Dependence on oil means dependence on the Middle East, where 70 per cent of the world proven reserves exists. According to IMF forecasts, China's economy is expected to surpass that of America in real terms by 2016. The United States is not in a position to halt or even slow down China's economic growth, but as the world's top military power, the US is in a position to exercise control over China's main source of oil imports, i.e. the Middle East. The United States will imple- ment such control through its military pres- ence in the Middle East as well as keeping a constant eye over strategic chokepoints to supervise China's imported oil mari- time routes. Meantime and for the years to come, the US will also be busy with a widespread "stabilization" plan within the Middle Eastern societies, which is already underway under the title of "Arab Spring".

Chinese, on the other hand, would prob- ably leapfrog from oil, if they can, until they manage to efficiently reduce depend- ence on fossil fuels and turn into a clean energy based economy. Such a goal seems to be viable only after 2030. Until then, China would concentrate on a conditional coexistence with the US, while benefiting from its position as the largest creditor nation and foreign holder of US public debt. The likely related developments in 2012 are expected to be further US efforts to expand its military and non-military presence in the Middle East through extending the "Social Engineering" plans to Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula are at the core of oil and gas reserves in the Middle East. The United States put an end to its military presence in Saudi Arabia 10 years agoand will do the same in Iraq by the end of 2011. However, in both cases, American forces were and are being evacuated to the neighboring Kuwait and US would maintain a strong military and political presence in the area as before. The drums of war with Iran are being played and it seems US plans to extend her influence in the Middle East even further. For several years to come, both China and the United States will maintain high interests in the Middle East, with "Energy Security" being the main key driver for the former, and "Geopolitics of Energy" for the latter.

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Publication:Oil & Gas Review
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Feb 27, 2012

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