Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Fellow Robert Manning writes for Global Times on what China’s role as the largest importer of oil means for its shared interests in the Middle East with the United States:
It went all but unnoticed, but in another milestone of its growing global role, in 2014 China surpassed the US as the world’s largest importer of oil. As the US and China struggle to define what a “new model of major power relationship” actually means, one measure of it would be for the world’s two largest powers to increase cooperation to strengthen the global order.
And nowhere is the global order more challenged than by the multiple, overlapping ethnic, religious and sectarian conflicts raging in the Middle East. By most assessments, the Middle East is likely to be consumed by internecine conflict for a generation to come.
Some 70 percent of Middle East oil exports go to Asia, and East Asia gets some 75 percent of its oil imports (in China’s case, about 60 percent) from the Middle East. With some 60 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, even with the US Shale Revolution, so long as the world needs petroleum, there will be a global market and the Middle East will remain a strategic region to China as much, if not more, than to the US.