Friday, November 19, 2004

China Barrels Ahead in Oil Market: "After a Chinese company's deal to develop an oil field in Iran, Beijing tacitly offered political support for Tehran's budding nuclear program. That put China in direct cross hairs of the Bush administration.... Only a decade ago, China shipped out more crude than it imported. This year it ... is now the world's second-largest importer of oil after the U.S. Surging Chinese demand, which has helped drive up oil prices to record levels in the last year, is expected to rise by double-digit growth rates annually for the next 15 years."

"One of China's biggest and latest energy ventures involves Iran, which the United States has sought to isolate for its alleged development of a covert nuclear arms program. Late last month, Chinese and Iranian officials signed a preliminary deal in which China's Sinopec Group would develop Iran's Yadavarn oil field in exchange for Sinopec agreeing to buy millions of tons of Iranian liquefied natural gas. The Chinese government media valued the deal at $70 billion.

"A few days later, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing gave Iran important political support in the standoff over the Islamic republic's nuclear program. Li said Beijing opposed efforts to have the matter referred to the United Nations Security Council, although he stopped short of saying China would use its veto power if the case were sent there."

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