Chinese-Iranian alliance is new U.S. headache

October 25, 2010 - 0:0

Iran or, to be more exact, Iranian oil is becoming the apple of discord for two large world economies, the USA and China. The conflict seems unavoidable, what is unclear is the shape it will assume.

Lately the USA has been repeatedly accusing Chinese companies of violating sanctions against Iran. The main accusation is of breaking the international sanctions, but complaints about breaking the unilateral U.S. sanctions also sound regularly and persistently. Washington is obviously concerned that China might undermine the effect of all sanctions imposed on Iran. Do these fears have serious grounds?
As experts note, there are some grounds for these suspicions. The ban on European companies taking part in the development of Iranian industry will result in their economic losses and their competitors’ gains.
For example, after Western companies withdrew from the South Pars gas field, large Chinese investor China National Petroleum strengthened its position there and became a monopoly. China evidently intends to expand its presence in Iran and this cannot but cause anxiety on the part of American strategists. If China becomes a catalyst for the development of the Iranian economy, Iran will become even more “disobedient”.
Moreover, in a short while, these two Asian countries will be able to assume the safeguarding role in the Strait of Hormuz, which is currently performed by the USA. However, at present the Chinese Navy is incapable of replacing the USA in the Persian Gulf but this is only a matter of time, believes Konstantin Markov, a Moscow political scientist and Orientalist.
“This scenario is quite realistic because China is very interested in the security of delivery of its main energy resources and, in general, in strengthening the security of its energy supply. Tehran is becoming a reliable partner for Beijing because China will be the main prospector of Iranian oil and gas fields after access is closed for the West and Japan, thanks to the USA.”
It is clear that the USA is not going to sit twiddling its thumbs. America already speaks in favor of the Chinese authorities reducing their investments in the Iranian energy sector. As is known, the USA has adopted a law which gives the U.S. president authority to take measures against foreign oil and gas companies engaged in this.
“However, it would be naive to hope that this law can stop China, continues Konstantin Markov. That country, out of objective necessity, searches for carbon derivatives all over the world. Even if the USA maintains a tough international isolation of Iran, which has 10 percent of the world stock of oil and 16% of the stock of natural gas, China will still have an appetite for these reserves.”
If Washington sees that it is losing control over the Persian Gulf region, it will have no other choice but to try to re-establish this control at all costs. So, the conflict is looming, but the shape it will assume remains to be seen.
Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai on June 11, 2010. (Getty Images)