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China’s challenging relations in the Persian Gulf

August 22, 2013

John Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies  (link opens a pdf file) examines the increasingly difficult relations that China is facing in the Persian Gulf:

Even as Iran, Iraq, and the GCC states all seek stronger ties with China, and many seek a greater role for China in the Middle East, China remains cautious. Wary of the Iran-GCC rivalry and keeping a watchful eye on the United States, China continues to seek to avoid becoming entangled in these regional dynamics. With growing domestic energy demands and a less certain U.S. global role, the balance may prove increasingly difficult to strike.

As China’s supply chain stretches it, it inevitably facings more and more challenges in keeping it secure.  It’s navy cannot even dominate its home waters, and several rival navies between China and the Gulf are near peers, peers or superiors in the maritime realm.  China – like every other trading nation – has relied on the US Navy to secure free use of the global maritime commons.   Ironically, China may be the nation least able to afford a diminution of US naval strength, at least in the near and middle terms.

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