China Should Save Syria?

Jun 19 2012 @ 2:45pm

That's Niall Ferguson's suggestion. I'm delighted he sees the limits of American power and the need for more global responsibility from China. I loved this passage:

In terms of geopolitics, China today is the world’s supreme free rider. China’s oil consumption has doubled in the past 10 years, while America’s has actually declined. As economist Zhang Jian pointed out in a paper for the Brookings Institution last year, China relies on foreign imports for more than 50 percent of the oil it consumes, and half of this imported oil is from the Middle East. (China’s own reserves account for just 1.2 percent of the global total.)

Moreover, China’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil is set to increase. The International Energy Authority estimates that by 2015 foreign imports will account for between 60 and 70 percent of its total consumption. Most of that imported energy comes through a handful of vital marine bottlenecks: principally, the straits of Hormuz and Malacca and the Suez Canal.

Yet China contributes almost nothing to stability in the oil-producing heartland of the Arabian deserts and barely anything to the free movement of goods through the world’s strategic sea lanes.

Larison recoils. But it seems to me that any way we can be less involved in that pitiless part of the world is a good thing. Especially if newly exploited natural gas reserves help us to wean ourselves off their oil.