mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Mr. Wen Shops for Oil

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao returns to his homeland today having concluded an expensive shopping trip across the Middle East. Chinese business leaders, accompanying Mr. Wen, signed (WSJ subscription required) deals with Arab companies worth billions of dollars, but one of the more interesting details of the trip is the Persian Gulf storefront Mr. Wen and his delegation did not shop at: Iran.

None of this is to say that China is about to jump on the Iran sanctions bandwagon. Just last week, in fact, Chinese officials refused American requests to reduce oil imports from Iran. Yet as Wen’s trip suggests, China is moving on its own to diversify its energy supplies. Publicly, Beijing has to take a strong line against American meddling; privately, it recognizes the benefits of reducing dependence on Iranian oil and on dangerous transit routes like the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca. (China is working on pipeline projects aimed at bypassing both those strategic choke points.)

China still buys a lot of oil from Iran and will continue to do so. But Beijing’s energy diversification effort is Tehran’s loss, and a big loss at that. Iran’s list of friends is dwindling, and we can be sure that Wen was getting an earful about Tehran from all his new best friends in the Gulf.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Shiblee

    All news aim only to brainwashed American . Iran is second in supplying oil in China . China needs more oil , why China will depend on One country ? Thats means current ties between Iran and China is breaking ? China was , is , will depend on Iran for strategy . As all oil countries but Iran are slaves of USA . Without Iran , USA could halt oil supply to China anytime if needed .

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Shiblee: Even with Iran, US could stop the flow of oil to China anytime it wanted. The US Navy has the ability to block oil on the high seas. However, this is not something the US would want to do except in wartime.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service