GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
China as a Factor in the Emerging GCC-Iraq Relations: The Predominance of Oil
Paper Proposal Text :
China’s relationship with the Gulf region has assumed dynamic proportions, chiefly due to its energy requirements to feed its thriving economy. According to the IEA estimates, by 2030 the Gulf will supply China with one in every three barrels of China’s consumption. While energy is the driving factor behind China’s growing attention to the Gulf region, the same can also be said for the GCC countries as well as Iraq, and their increased focus on Asia as a whole and China in particular. China is seen by the Gulf States as the huge market for its oil exports.
Though Iraq is not yet on the edge of civil war, Iraq’s stability and security now depends on the ability of Iraq’s leaders to move towards some form of viable political unity and effective governance. Today it is clear to the GCC countries that their security, especially ‘energy security’ depends on a stable Iraq, and that Iraq’s stabilization cannot be achieved without a strong and adequate international assistance. China has been emerging as a proactive partner in all these efforts. Chinese state-owned oil companies are now aggressively bidding for contracts in Iraq, and there is a clear Chinese presence in regional commerce as well as in the energy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.
In order to decrease misperceptions and avoid conflicts related to energy issues, a number of different level dialogues and cooperation between China and the United States have become visible. It is evident that China seems to now share certain interests with the US to see recovery in Iraq, so that the country starts its reconstruction on a normal track. However, there are still big differences between these extra regional powers as to what should be the best approach to this objective. One such divergence relates to the ‘Iran’ factor. Antagonisms between Iran and the Unites States have meant that Beijing has been cautious about its relations with Tehran. While seeking oil and natural gas from Iran, the extent to which China can maneuver between the pro-American regime in Saudi Arabia and the anti-American regime in Iran, is a question that will test the pragmatism of China’s Gulf policy. It is also an issue which will be under the scanner of the GCC countries, in their evolving relations with post- war Iraq.
Though GCC countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are apprehensive of Iraqi oil production surpassing theirs, the GCC in general has a big stake in a) a stable Iraq from a wider regional security perspective b) the imperative of keeping Iraq free from the ‘Iranian influence’, especially in its oil reconstruction program, and c) keeping China out of the Iranian oil development.
In the light of the above, the proposed paper would like to explore:
 China’s growing energy relations with GCC and Iraq.
 Chinese support to “Iraqi (Oil) Reconstruction” and its impact on the GCC.
 The “Iran factor” in the regional energy quagmire, with implications for China as well GCC-Iraq relations.