Baghdad [Iraq]December 1 (ANI): Iraq has started rejecting Chinese investment proposals to move away from Chinese dependence.
As skepticism grew about China’s investments in the region and globally, Iraq has begun efforts to limit China’s growing influence, Asian Lite International reported.
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By May 2022, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil had anticipated three major deals with Chinese companies that would have allowed them greater control over oil fields.
Those deals include Russia’s Lukoil, Britain’s BP and US oil major Exxon Mobil, which wanted to sell stakes in major fields to state-backed Chinese companies. However, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil has intervened to prevent these deals from materializing, Asian Lite International reported.
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Oil has always been a key factor in world politics. And in the 21st century, its importance has increased even more as energy has become a major driver of economic growth.
The Middle East and specifically Iraq is one of the richest lands in terms of oil reserves. And so Iraq has become important to Chinese foreign policy. The country is said to be Beijing’s third largest oil supplier.
Beijing has been Baghdad’s top investor and the latter has benefited the most from the Belt and Road initiative by receiving $10.5 billion for infrastructure projects such as a power plant and an airport, Asian Lite International reported.
However, Baghdad has been skeptical of China’s growing influence in the oil industry which was also perceived unfavorably by Western oil companies, which remain crucial markets for Iraq’s oil industry, Asian Lite International reported .
Iraqi government officials have consistently expressed serious concern about the speed with which Beijing is trying to take over Iraq’s oil sector.
A recent protest in southeastern Iraq’s Maysan governorate, which is home to a Chinese oil company, China Petroleum Engineering and Construction, has already hinted at a growing unease in the country about the ambitions China’s expansionists regarding the Iraqi oil industry. Asian Lite International.
According to analysts, China is taking advantage of the security vacuum resulting from the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. Beijing is doing so by aligning its state-owned enterprises with militia groups so that it can reap the benefits of the oil sector.
For Beijing, Baghdad is the preferred trading partner in the Middle East and the biggest supplier of oil next only to Riyadh and Moscow. Aside from energy reserves, one of the critical aspects that Beijing wants to benefit from is Iraq’s strategic location near the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the two places that are critical to the BRI, Asian Lite International reported.
Since the US had already withdrawn from the region, Beijing had the opportunity it had been looking for for a long time. His active role in rebuilding Iraq after years of war and conflict has given him a position of influence in the country.
China has already begun to reap the benefits of the opportunities presented after the conflict in Iraq and that too without getting involved militarily.
Iraqi citizens are seeing this growing Chinese power in their country along the lines of colonialism. Therefore, protests outside Chinese establishments have occurred several times.
As one Iraqi official remarked, “We do not want the Iraqi energy sector to be labeled as a Chinese-led energy sector and this attitude is accepted by the government and the Ministry of Oil.” (ANI)
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