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The role of Gulf region’s energy suppliers in China’s energy security at the turn of the 21st centur

Aram Abajyan

vol. VIII(2)

Pages 62-81


Abstract: The main purpose of this article is to analyze China’s energy

security calculations starting from the end of the 20th century. The

growing demand for oil paved the way for China to expand energy ties

especially with the Gulf region’s energy producers. Beijing’s economic

modernization initiative together with its market-oriented economic plans

caused significant increases in its energy demands. The Gulf attracted

China more than any other region due to its huge energy resources.

Consequently, while continuing to deepen its cooperative ties with the

Gulf States, China was even ready for direct competition with the United

States for influence there. Chinese energy companies were pursuing deals

in many regions, but the Gulf region’s huge oil potential remained

crucially important for Beijing. The region gradually gained priority

status in China’s strategic calculations. Chinese economic and energy

relations started to flourish in the Gulf, especially with their Saudi

partners. Thus, the Sino-Saudi ‘strategic partnership’ pushed Beijing

forward for new opportunities. Strategically significant development in

Sino-Saudi trade and investment ties helped Chinese strengthen efforts to

reemerge in the Kingdom’s eyes as a trustworthy and desirable long-term

customer for importing Saudi oil. China’s oil diplomacy along with its

huge demands for imported-oil had the potential to strengthen its energy

ties with oil-producers, even thought his policy complicated its relations

with other global oil-importing states.

In this article, the author tries to present China’s soft penetration into the

Gulf region that made those states significant energy suppliers. How the

Gulf region became a top priority within Beijing’s energy security

calculations will be demonstrated. Indeed, the attempts of Sino-Saudi

rapprochement together with China-United States regional relations are

also explored.

Keywords: China, energy security, Middle East, Gulf, United States, oil

diplomacy

Aram Abajyan
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