News / Asia

China’s Wen Visits Middle East Amid Energy Concerns

China's Premier Wen Jiabao (file photo)
China's Premier Wen Jiabao (file photo)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia Saturday amid fears that tighter international sanctions on Iran’s oil industry may affect China’s energy imports.

Full details of Premier Wen’s six-day visit to the Middle East, which will also take him to the oil exporting nations of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, are still unknown, but securing energy supplies to meet growing Chinese demand is expected to top the agenda.

China’s booming economy has become dependent on foreign oil, with 11 percent of imports coming from Iran.

The United States on Wednesday called on China - the largest buyer of Iranian crude - to reduce its purchases as part of a bid to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program.  The West says Iran's nuclear program is aimed at building weapons, but Iran says it is for peaceful purposes.

Chinese officials have criticized the “unilateral” efforts of the United States to impose further sanctions on Iran. However, most analysts, like Christian Koch from the Gulf Research Center, say if China were to cooperate with the U.S. in the future, it would partly depend on assurances from Gulf countries that they would accommodate the extra oil demand that would ensue.

Increasingly weary of Iran’s nuclear aspirations, Saudi Arabia recently announced that it has the capacity to meet global needs if new sanctions stop Iranian oil from flowing.

"The Saudis will certainly prove themselves amendable to discussing possibly increased levels of exports to China, so that’s what the premier is going to be looking for," said Koch.

China has a history of opposing outside intervention in foreign countries, but it eventually supported last year’s opposition movement in Libya. According to Shaun Breslin, professor of politics and international studies at Warwick University, such support could mean Chinese authorities take similar stances on matters of foreign policy in the future.

"They want to be seen as a responsible power and they’re aware that if they’re seen as being in some way irresponsible, that this can have negative impacts on other economic goals."

In addition to pressure from the U.S., Wen’s visit to the Gulf also follows recent threats by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to more sanctions.

Almost a fifth of all oil traded worldwide passes through the strategic waterway, including about a third of Chinese oil imports.

China is expected to sign a joint venture deal in the coming days to develop a refinery on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Coast, allowing tankers to bypass the Strait of Hormuz.

Chinese officials say Wen will not visit Iran during his Middle East trip.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid