Some History on China and Oil
Some history which may give some insight to the why and how of China, their industrial and foreign policy.
In order to evaluate the pros and cons of the Gateway Pipeline Project, we must first have an understanding of the players involved.
I am not an historian. I am a Canadian citizen deeply concerned about the ecological, environmental and economical effects the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline will have on our country. This report is taken from what I perceive to be factual information from sources I have been able to research and trust to be authentic and factual.
Since the mid ’50s, China has been developing it’s economy out from primarily an agriculture base to what is now an industrial super power. The 1960s saw rapid change as China sought foreign investment and technology in order to compete in international affairs. Many western corporations were attracted to the economic advantages of conducting business with China, a huge low cost labor pool and a huge market for consumer goods of all types. As industrialization took place, so did the need for energy. China has fairly large oil reserves both onshore and offshore which remained virtually untapped until recently. China sought energy sources mainly from nearby Iran and Russia.
Politics of course, has played a huge roll in Chinese industrial development. China and Russia, although both communist, never saw eye to eye on politics. As long as the Cold war between the US and USSR remained, Russian trade with China continued to increase. Since the end of WW2 western interests in the South Pacific played a huge role influencing the politics of the region. China also kept an eye on the South Asian countries stemming the tides of democracy. China proved it’s military interference capabilities first in North Korea in halting democracy in the peninsula and later in Viet Nam assisting the North Vietnamese communist regime to drive out the American forces.
In the late ’70s, China turned south to the Southern countries around Malaysia to further it’s energy supplies. China required more oil resources and looked to Iran. China had border disagreements though with Afghanistan. China needed to come to terms with Afghan leaders in order to ensure a secure and shorter route to it’s largest energy trade source, Iran. This upset the USSR who was experiencing loss of control and influence over it’s southern states and with it direct control over the oil resources in the area. Russia wanted to build a pipeline through Afghanistan to India. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 which led to a 10 year war in which, with Chinese support and indirect US support, drove out the Russians but left a chaotic fragile regime of warlords to rule over the country. A perfect climate for anti-western culture which the Taliban took advantage of along with support from neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
When the US/USSR cold war ended in 1981, it left a huge area of the North Middle East with instability and further unrest threatening access to precious oil resources for western powers. Every country was seeking the control of oil resources and sales and especially the dollars that came with them. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. acted to prevent the confrontation from widening, largely in order to prevent additional disruption to world oil supplies and to honor U.S. security assurances to Saudi Arabia. As a result, the U.S. reacted to Soviet troop movements on the border of Iran by informing the Soviet Union that they would defend Iran in the event of Soviet invasion. The US supplied armaments to the then weakened Iranian Military to back up this promise.
Relying on western promises and oil revenues, the Shah pursued his goal of developing Iran as a regional power dedicated to social reform and economic development pleasing to western countries. Yet he continually refused to allow any civic and political freedom, remaining unresponsive to public opinion. The Shah’s government collapsed following widespread uprisings in 1978 -1979 and consequently an Islamic Republic was formed bound to uphold Islamic law, condemning Israel and it’s allies especially the USA.
After the Soviets were halted in any expansion of access to the Mid East oil reserves, Iran, with a strengthened military, both from US and China, took to widen control over the area by threatening a then unstable government in neighboring Iraq. In 1980, Saddam Hosien attacked Iran in an attempt to gain the upper hand in what he hoped would reunite the State of Persia under his Sunni leadership. The resulting 8 year Iran-Iraq War permanently altered the course of both Irani and Iraqi history. The USA, realizing an eastern influence and fearing loss of continuing supply from the oil reserves, aided the then befriended Saddam Hosien of Iraq, supplying weapons and technology. The Iranian Republic which formally denounced all religion but Islam, found itself cut off from western trade when a UN sanctioned embargo was introduced. With western alienation, Iran was forced to turn even further to China for trade and alliance.
Back in the late 1990s, China was desperately seeking new resources for crude oil which they could control and have dominant access to. The Canadian tar sands at that time were too costly to invest in for an industrial developing nation such as China. China was turning increasingly toward Iran especially with the US threatening a tighter embargo on Iranian exports. China was deliberating with the Taliban to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. The Bush administration disapproved of this deal outright which would give not only the Taliban a huge source of revenue, but strengthen their ability to create havoc against the USA and would also strengthen China’s ability to become the foremost industrial force in the world overtaking the US.
The Taliban out-thought themselves and fell into the trap of attacking the USA by crashing aircraft into the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, believing that in the event of retaliation they would be aided by Chinese forces as were North Korea and Viet Nam. The US led Western Alliance struck back as planned but, the Chinese, still needing the western nations as trading partners for their growing industrial products, remained ‘supposedly’ neutral and allowed the Taliban, Pakistan and Iran to face the consequences basically on their own.
China is greatly suspected of introducing and aiding both North Korea and Iran in their efforts to gain nuclear energy and weaponry along with the delivery systems and other advanced technology. US State Dept.: “China is estimated by the Federation of American Scientists to have an arsenal of about 180 active nuclear weapon warheads and 240 total warheads as of 2009, which would make it the second smallest nuclear arsenal amongst the five major nuclear weapon states. According to some estimates, the country could “more than double” the “number of warheads on missiles that could threaten the United States by the mid-2020s”. “China has yet to define what it means by a “minimum deterrent posture”. This, together with the fact that “it is deploying four new nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, invites concern as to the scale and intention of China’s nuclear upgrade” “(US) –has concerns over possible Chinese biological weapon transfers to Iran and other nations…and have received reports regarding transfers of dual-use items from Chinese entities to the Iranian government…”
Over the next 10 years, while western nations did their ‘best’ to sort out the Afghan / Pakistan debacle and also keep Iranian interests in check, China went about their goal of securing oil resources with the huge profits they were receiving selling products to western consumers. They have recently secured a deal to build a pipeline through Afghanistan which will tap into the oil fields of Iran and south Afghanistan. They purchased several large shares of energy companies, many operating in Canada. Not only were the tar sands becoming a viable resource, Liquid Natural Gas is in abundance in Western Canada also and China is bent on securing these resources.