Military Review

Transit wars 2013: USA vs China

The alignment of forces

Today, world leadership has ceased to be a game in the "King of the Mountain." Now it is more like a crazy and uninterrupted bike ride from an endless steep slope. At the same time, determination and strength, although important, are not the most important qualities for winning. Much more valuable is the ability to properly and timely balance in a rapidly changing situation. Achieving the right balance is the achievement of domination. If you stop balancing or make a mistake on the next bump, you will fall. And yesterday's spectators, fans first pounce on the overthrown idol.

In the current global geopolitics as the main means of Balance / Dominance, among many others, we can distinguish credit, financial, and industrial and economic leverage. It is necessary to apply them constantly alternating not only with respect to direct competitors, but also with respect to any countries of any significance in the world. And to do it so skillfully so that any action of the enemy to the maximum benefit the Empire, and inaction ultimately guaranteed to lead to a deterioration of positions and defeat the opponent.

Since the beginning of 90, the role of the Leader has undividedly and unquestionably passed to the United States. But, keenly watching the main rival of Europe and restraining attempts to revive Russia on the ruins of the USSR, Washington did not initially hinder the creation of a "factory of the world" in the PRC. It does not matter, voluntarily or involuntarily, but the States missed the moment when China, which began as a TNK factory branch, managed not only to gain enormous industrial and economic power, but also skillfully turned it into a credit and financial strength of the Yuan.

China in the global game has achieved what other US competitors have failed - neither Europe, nor Russia, nor the strengthening economies of the BRICS countries. Although the Celestial Empire clearly does not offer an alternative to the existing world credit and financial system that has compromised itself after 2008, even the very idea of ​​the Yuan as an alternative to the Dollar is already a clear threat to US global domination.

Attempts by the US, by analogy with the Euro, to draw the Yuan into financial-exchange and currency-exchange-rate games to support the Dollar, Beijing ignored. As a result, a stalemate has arisen on the credit and financial front of the US struggle against China. None of the opponents dares to openly strike the opponent’s financial system, which, in the absence of an alternative, will become suicidal for the entire world economy. "Fighting" went into a positional war.

The situation is completely different on the industrial and economic front. Confrontation unfolded around the world and even seriously shaken stability in many parts of the world.

And the main goal of the United States is the raw material dependence of China’s industry, namely, the blood of modern oil industry. Or rather, the sources and routes of its deliveries to the Celestial

Let's take a closer look at the sources of imports of crude oil in China, as of the end of 2011, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Transit wars 2013: USA vs China

Total 5 million 076 thousand barrels / day.

Of these, 2 million 162 thousand barrels / day are transported from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz (with the exception of 363 thousand barrels of Omani oil). Of these, only Iranian (555 thousand barrels / day) and, partly, Iraqi (276 thousand barrels / day) oil can be considered not sufficiently controlled by the US influence.

996 thousand barrels / day - oil from Africa.

619 thousand barrels / day - oil from Russia and Kazakhstan.

364 thousand barrels / day - oil from South America.

572 thousand barrels / day - other oil suppliers.

But the information of the Russian News on the beginning of 2012 year

In 2012, oil imports to China increased even more.

According to the results of December 2012, China came out on top in the world in terms of net oil imports, according to the Financial Times. The publication clarifies that China has committed "historical breakthrough ”relative to this indicator, overtaking the United States.
According to the country's customs administration, in December 2012, the PRC increased net imports to 6,12 million barrels per day. Independent analysts estimated net imports at 5,994 million barrels per day.

In 2012, Chinese crude oil imports amounted to approximately 271 million tons, an increase, compared with 2011, reached 6,8 percent.

Following the rapid development of the economy in China, the rapid growth in energy demand continues, the volume of imports of crude oil constantly set new historical records. Senior Deputy Director of Sinopec Corporation, the largest Chinese refiner, Cai Xiyu admitted that the share of oil purchased by this corporation abroad already exceeds 80 percent, resource constraints have become the main problem for the development of enterprises-consumers of energy resources.
Assistant Director of the Chinese corporation "Sinohem" Zhong Ren predicts that by 2020, the demand for oil in China may exceed 700 million tons, of which two thirds should be obtained through imports.
Along with the growth in imports, high oil prices put increasing pressure on the value of imports. According to the GTU, in 2012, China imported crude oil worth 220,67 billion, compared with 2011, the growth was 12,1 percent.
At the 4 th Annual Conference on the Oil Business, held yesterday in Shanghai, many experts predicted that international oil prices would continue to rise in 2013, the problem of high oil prices will continue to trouble China.
According to economic analyst Xinhua Huang Chaoda, in 2013, the supply of oil in the world is likely to be sufficient. As for China, there is no need to worry too much about the supply of oil, it is necessary to more closely monitor the risks associated with the continuous increase in oil prices.
In recent years, the US government has spent many rounds of quantitative easing, a large amount of capital has flowed into the market of oil futures. During the weeks of 3 after the adoption of the decision to expand the quantitative easing policy in the second decade of December, the New York oil futures rose by about 20 percent in total.
Fluctuations in international oil prices have a direct impact on all aspects of China’s production and life, which is the second largest consumer of oil in the world. Due to the impact of international oil prices, the cost of a liter of 93 gasoline in the Shanghai area increased from 4,95 yuan in 2009 year to 7, 75 yuan, the increase in 4 year exceeded 50 percent.
Deputy Director of Imao Jituan Corporation, Zhong Jian, believes that the pricing system for fuel inside China is closely linked to international oil prices. If international oil prices do not fall in 2013, China’s fuel prices will increase, you should be wary of the risks of imported inflation.
According to experts, an effective way to combat the problems associated with high oil prices is the development of clean and highly efficient alternative energy sources. The head of the board of the Chinese Society for the Study of Renewable Energy Sources, Shi Dinghuan, was informed by a correspondent. Xinhua, that China has incorporated cleaner production technologies, the integrated use of resources, renewable energy sources in the state development strategy, in the future the share of renewable energy sources in China will continuously increase.

And now let's take a closer look at the countries that export oil to China.

Gulf countries

1. Iran

At the beginning of 2012, during a period of substantial activation of American sanctions against the export of Iranian oil, strange as it may be, it was China that was considered to be the most “allied” (or rather, probably not hostile) Iran most seriously.

When friendly US Japan, Korea and the EU only declared their intention to support the American embargo, stipulating the need to find a replacement for Iranian oil, and South Africa, Sri Lanka, India and Turkey simply ignored Washington’s demands, Beijing not only started direct talks with Saudi Arabia about increasing oil supplies , but during January 2012 of the year reduced daily oil imports from Iran by half to 285 thousand barrels ...

What will change in Iran’s international politics with the election of the President of the Islamic Republic, Hassan Rouhani, remains to be seen. But in any case - friends, especially in trouble, do not do that ...

2. Iraq

"... Beijing has become the largest customer of Baghdad. He buys almost half of the oil produced in Iraq. This is 1,5 million barrels per day. But this does not satisfy China. Now he is targeting oilfields owned by the largest American oil company, Exxon Mobil.
“China benefits more than any other country from the post-Saddam oil boom in Iraq,” said Deniz Natali, a renowned expert on the Middle East at Washington University of National Defense. “China needs energy and therefore is actively looking for oil markets.”
The Chinese factor lets know about itself both in big and small. Recently, in the desert on the borders of Iraq, China built its own airport, on which planes with Chinese workers aboard sit down to serve the Iraqi southern oil fields. Direct routes are planned from Beijing and Shanghai to Baghdad in the near future. In the luxurious hotels of the port city of Basra, the Chinese business leaders surprise their owners not only in Arabic, but in Arabic with an Iraqi accent. And most importantly, the Chinese do not complain about anything, they say, “everything is fine, you are a beautiful marquise!” This is not capricious western firms! Strict contract terms? - oh 'kay. Little profits? We interrupt. For China, energy is the most important thing in order to fuel its huge and ever-expanding economy. Chinese oil giants can wait with a surplus, especially since they belong to the state and do not answer to demanding shareholders and moreover do not pay them dividends.
Before the US invasion, the Iraqi oil industry was in limbo, cut off from the rest of the world by international sanctions against the Baghdad dictator. Having overthrown Saddam, Washington has removed these obstacles, and China has actively rushed to Iraq’s vast oil resources. China’s state-owned companies began to invest annually more than two billion dollars in Iraqi oil companies, and also transport hundreds of Chinese oil workers to Iraq. In addition, they agree to play by local rules and do not pursue high profit. “We lost,” says Michael Makowski, a former Pentagon official in the Bush administration and one of the developers of his oil policy. “The Chinese had no relation to the war, but from an economic point of view, they get the greatest benefit, and our Fifth Fleet and our air force actually guarantee China uninterrupted supply of Iraqi oil.” ...
Some observers believe that the successes of China, using the results of the US victory in Iraq, are not necessarily negative for Washington. The growing production of Iraq, which is greatly contributed by the Chinese labor force, is covering up the global economy from rising prices that cause Western sanctions imposed on Iranian oil. Add to this the oil boom of the United States itself, which has surpassed all expectations and calculations and the dependence of the West, including the United States, on mid-eastern oil is increasingly declining. At the same time, America is quite aware that China’s interest in Iraqi oil contributes to stabilizing Baghdad, which is threatened by all sorts of religious conflicts. “Our interest is that oil in Iraq is produced, that Iraq makes money. This is a big plus, says David Goldwyn, who coordinated the US State Department in international affairs regarding energy in the Obama First Administration. “From the geopolitical point of view, Washington is quite happy with the rapprochement of relations between China and Iraq.”

You can agree or disagree with the statements of American politicians in the article. But I will draw attention to the following facts:

1) China uses the Iraqi government’s oil in Damascus and the southern Basrah fields, with poor access to the North Iraqi KRG oil and the disputed territories of Kirkuk and Mosul.

2) The issue of separating the Kurdish region from Iraq is so serious that Prime Minister Maliki, even despite the accusations of parliamentarian Hassan Alavi, held talks with Barzani not in Baghdad, but in Erbil.

3) Despite all the efforts of Baghdad, there is an ever-increasing escalation of the situation in Iraq related to the ethnic conflicts between the ruling Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis.

4) It is possible that unrest in Turkey may be associated precisely with the problems of the formation of a Kurdish state in Iraq.

And the conclusion is simple.
Although the "oil successes" of China in Iraq are significant, but their results can be buried at any time if the situation in the Middle Eastern country is rather likely to destabilize.

3. Monarchies and Emirates of the Middle East, Sultanate of Oman
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates in the event of an aggravation of the situation, would rather occupy the position of Washington than of Beijing.
The Sultanate of Oman stands apart on this list. The country is historically unfriendly KSA and maintains fairly close and affectionate relations with the main opponent of the kingdom of Iran. The country is always having its own opinion on the events of the Middle East is not always the same as the position of the West and the United States.
But, nevertheless, Washington never forgot about Oman:
21 May Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said met with US Secretary of State John Kerry who arrived in Muscat. J. Kerry arrived in Muscat on a visit to Oman on Tuesday at noon ...
Oman is the first stop in the Kerry trip to the Middle Eastern countries ....
This is his first trip to this country of the Persian Gulf after assuming the US Secretary of State ...


1. Sudan

The once reliable supplier of oil to China, torn into 2011 into two parts - the South producing and the Northern transporting oil. And the prospects for improving the situation in the country remain weak:
Sudan suspended the transit of South Sudanese oil
Not add optimism and regional contradictions between Egypt and Ethiopia about the use of the Nile

2. Congo

A troubled, but important enough country to qualify for the visit of the newly elected Chinese leader Xi Jiping in his recent African tour, along with Tanzania, before the BRICS summit in South Africa.

3. Angola

The most reliable and consistent supplier of African oil to China. Outwardly, it even seems that the United States deliberately inferior to the Angolan oil of the PRC, focusing more on the Nigerian oil (more on this below).
It is the Angolan oil in the PRC that created the greatest preferences. So in November, 2012 China lowered the export duty on oil from Angola by 95% of standard tariffs. With the fact that earlier the tariff for the import of oil from Angola to China was also preferential, the discount was 65%.
In addition, positive for China - Angola intends to bring oil production to 2 million barrels per day to 2015, catching up with Nigeria - Africa's largest oil producer.
One problem is a large transport arm for the transportation of Angolan oil to China. But more about that in the second part ...

4 Nigeria

The largest producer of oil on the African continent in relation to its exports to China modestly takes the position of "other suppliers". If this can be called encouraging for Beijing, then European countries are forced to share equally Nigerian oil with its largest US importer.
But for China, the West African region is quite important. And, despite the growing influence of the United States in it, Beijing, at least, does not abandon its attempts to strengthen its presence in the region: China proposed to send its peacekeepers to Mali - the UN

South America

1. Venezuela and Brazil

Reliable enough, but very far and insignificant in the total volume of Chinese imports of oil.


1. According to Chinese experts, the demand for crude oil in China will continue to grow.

2. Among the most reliable exporters of crude oil to China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Angola, Venezuela, Brazil, Congo can be distinguished. Iran and Oman can be considered a potentially reliable exporter. The rest of the countries supplying oil to China are potentially “problematic” due to the tense situation in the region or their loyal political orientation toward the main rival of the PRC — the United States.

Thus, the share of potentially “problem” suppliers in Chinese imports of crude oil is about 40%.

Nevertheless, any merchant knows that markets are not as dangerous for him even in troubled cities, as are the caravan routes themselves.
They know it and the robbers, industrial on the roads ...

Hormuz Strait

The control of the US on maritime communications allows them to create problems for their main rival, China, without the risk of being dragged into a direct clash. The situation in the Persian Gulf is a clear evidence of this.

The result of the first part of the article - approximately 40% of crude oil exports to China are made by potentially unreliable partners.

Do the US have geopolitical opportunities to increase this problem percentage, by way of example, to 60? Yes.

Does Washington use this trump card in the fight against China? With a very high probability - No.

First, we will not discount spot oil purchases on exchanges. They are difficult to control, but for the importer they can become a saving straw, giving a breath of air and time to resist after the “first shaft” and prepare for the subsequent “elemental shocks”. Especially if an importer like China has a lot of money that he is not afraid to spend.

Secondly, setting fire to entire regions and putting political pressure on oil exporters, thus causing them to incur significant losses, it is possible to overturn the entire global political and financial system. And in the general chaos and complete abandonment of the established “Rules of the Game”, former authority, experience and even strength often do not save the “Master” from the reckless pressure and suicidal courage of hungry “Novices” who passionately want to snatch their part of power and wealth. A “newcomer,” who has nothing to lose, will not fail to take advantage of the rather attractive 50 chance on 50 with an all-in bet of one con to beat the recognized Professional. And if you bet against the "Master" will not only "Beginners" ...

Third, the most important thing. An axial blow to the sources of Chinese oil imports is high prices for hydrocarbons, and, therefore, an extremely valuable gift to the second of the most dangerous geopolitical rivals of the USA - Russia.

And as a result ...
I paraphrase the famous phrase of the popular Soviet sports commentator N. Ozerov: “They do not need such geopolitics ...”

The way out of this situation is quite simple, known to many, and has long been implemented by the United States on a planned and permanent basis.

1. “Problems” should “arise by themselves” only in individual countries importing oil, without the apparent direct intervention of Washington. Since it happened in 2011 in Sudan and how it is happening today in Iraq.
Iranian oil embargo - has somewhat different perspectives and goals, which we will touch upon later ...

2. the main thing weapon against any (not only China) oil importer (or carrier of any other strategic goods and resources) - reliable control over the most important points of the main transportation routes with the possibility of effective economic and military-political influence on their work.

Pipelines are a significant transport component, but we will postpone the land case and turn our eyes to the sea routes of oil transportation. Moreover, most of the world oil reserves are coastal or shelf zones of the seas and oceans.

So - the main world straits

And the main routes of oil transportation

Let's start by the importance of the straits, with the leader of oil transportation.

1. Hormuz Strait

The Iranian embargo for the United States aims not so much to actually harm Tehran or to destroy it, which has still not been proven by the experts of the IAEA "Hypothetical" military nuclear program.

His main goals, in my opinion, have already been achieved:

1. Leading media have implanted in the thoughts of the world community an axiom that the blockade by Iran of the Strait of Hormuz will certainly take place, it is only a matter of time.

2. The embargo, negatively affecting the socio-economic situation in Iran, not only does not interfere, but even stimulates a significant increase in Tehran’s military potential. Potential tactical, and therefore automatically intended to hostile neighbors of Iran.

3. The pro-American and anti-Iranian position of KSA and Qatar in the Middle East policy and territorial disputes with the UAE “warmed up” Iran so much that it is potentially ready to enter into an armed confrontation with the Gulf Monarchies, which will result in a serious blow to world exports of crude oil, and, again, an attempt blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.

And the United States may well at the right time to push the "trigger" of the implementation of these plans. Either independently, or using Tehran’s regional conflicts with unfriendly neighbors or with Israel.

Alas, with the right approach for a long time “begging” Iran to resort to forceful methods of reaction and protection, they most likely will not have to.

Consider the most acute scenarios - Iran’s territorial confrontation with the United Arab Emirates, or Iran’s military-political conflict with KSA.

In the event of a confrontation between Iran and the KSA or the UAE, the United States has a direct reason to worry about the safety of navigation along the Strait of Hormuz - the road from the Indian Ocean to the main base of the 5th fleet in Bahrain and one of the main supply routes for the American group in Kuwait. But, it is likely that the States will take some (not very long) time to rush to unblock the strait, explaining the delay by the need for careful preparation for a dangerous operation against Iranian mine-torpedo assets, air defense and coastal defense.

And while Ormuz is closed by Iran for some time, China will suffer huge losses in attempts (most likely successful) to compensate for the loss of imports of Middle Eastern oil.

Imagine that the Strait of Hormuz, albeit briefly, but still blocked by Iran.

And what about such important importers of Middle Eastern oil as the EU, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Turkey and India?

To begin with, the United States would be wise to ensure the safety and maximum load of existing pipelines bypassing the Strait of Hormuz

First of all, their oil will primarily have to go to Washington's partners. From the United Arab Emirates of Japan, from KSA - EU

Moreover, as can be seen on the map of the straits, the capacity of the Suez Canal is higher than that of the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait. Hence, it is logical for oil to flow to the north, unloading the way for the export of North African oil to Asia.

And now about the countries of importers of Middle Eastern oil

For Europe, it is advisable before a strike:

1) maximize imports of Libyan oil by any means;
2) return Syrian oil to the EU market;
3) prepare the possibility of supplying to the Mediterranean coast the maximum possible volumes of North Iraqi KRG oil;
4) may be able to share with the EU some of the American quotas for Nigerian oil;
5) to initiate an increase in Russian oil supplies to Europe;
6) it is possible to restore the working capacity of the Trans-arabian oil pipeline

Yes, and by and large, "all kinds" of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the countries of South-Eastern Europe can suffer for some time before the blockade of the Strait of Hormuz is lifted. All inconveniences will be written off to the crisis, and in profit there will be increased dislike for “evil Iranians”, and not to their own governments.

For Japan and Korea
1) to increase supplies of Indonesian and Australian oil for some time

For South Africa
1) It is difficult to predict how to replace 25% imports of Iranian oil into the country. We will not guess, but suppose that “Foreigners will help them,” or maybe African neighbors or a relatively narrow-minded partner in BRICS Brazil ...

For turkey
1) The only one of the listed countries that has an advantage from the land neighborhood with Iran. The case when the phrase "case pipe" has a positive meaning.

For india
1) India’s competitive struggle for free assets of crude oil with China will only add to the situation intrigues useful for the US

In addition, the “gray horse” remains in the reserve outside the Strait of Hormuz - Oman, which is likely to occupy neutrality in the event of a confrontation between KSA and Iran. At least it is unlikely to support KSA or other radical Sunnis.

That is why it is important for oil importers to “be friends” with Oman. But the need for such a "friendship" is understood, as mentioned in the first part of the article, and the USA.
But which of the buyers of oil in force majeure time will be more sympathetic to Muscat, it's hard to say ...

Conclusion: The overlap of the Strait of Hormuz, if it is completed for a short time, is possible. The consequences for the global economy, although extremely dire, will not be deadly enough.
Yes, such a step requires careful preparation, taking into account the largest possible scenarios, which is difficult for any player, including the most sophisticated US planners. But to prepare, organize and complete it, albeit extremely difficult, but realistic.

However, as long as any actions aimed at initiating Iran's blocking of the Strait of Hormuz, this is more of a highly undesirable force majeure or emergency “plan B” for the US than a necessity. And to this, with the current geopolitical situation on BV, I think it will not come.

It is much easier and safer for the world economy to play the Iraqi map prepared after the withdrawal of US troops from the country. Especially given the significant increase in the supply of oil by this country to China. In addition, Iran is unlikely to remain indifferent to the confrontation of the Iraqi Shiites with the local Sunnis or Kurds. A fairly convenient way to sew Tehran’s increased military power into the least dangerous course for the US Middle East policy.
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  1. Papakiko
    Papakiko 27 June 2013 09: 00
    Great article with lots of color-beautiful schemes.
    A fairly convenient way to channel Tehran’s increased military might into the least dangerous channel for US Middle Eastern policy.
    And the whole article is played around the "mattress".
    Let me ask a question: And there are no small-British and gay-European interests there, why are there no interests of the named players in the "equations"?
    Such a dreary theme "Oil is a commodity for bald monkeys".
  2. Smersh
    Smersh 27 June 2013 09: 09
    But China devours everything and devours resources ...
  3. La hire
    La hire 27 June 2013 09: 12
    He looked at the chart and was horrified:
    Saudi Arabia - 20,5%

    Knowing whether or not, the Chinese comrades are clearly stepping on a rake ...
  4. Vtel
    Vtel 27 June 2013 09: 25
    The result of the first part of the article - approximately 40% of crude oil exports to China are made by potentially unreliable partners.
    Does the US have geopolitical opportunities to increase this problem percentage, for example, to 60? Yes. Does Washington use this trump card in the fight against China?

    Russia will confuse the United States with all their cunning plans.
    1. cartridge
      cartridge 27 June 2013 09: 38
      I think that not only Russia has a stick for the American wheel. First of all, China itself organizes the opposition, which is unlikely to be indifferent to the machinations of Americans.
  5. Zhzhuk
    Zhzhuk 27 June 2013 10: 18
    Och, the question is interesting now, as far as I know, the interests of England (the Rothschilds) are very well represented in China, Obama is also kind of a representative of British interests in the politics of the United States, so you can’t explain the essence of the events, they say, China, but the United States, multinational corporations are represented in everything the world and they probably play a decisive role in the economy and in politics, therefore, when analyzing geopolitical and global processes, one must take into account the positions of trance
  6. Standard Oil
    Standard Oil 27 June 2013 10: 20
    Interestingly, the Americans will bring down oil prices, help China, raise oil prices, help Russia, it turns out the Americans will only strike themselves if that.
    1. cdrt
      cdrt 27 June 2013 11: 06
      Well, given that the Russian economy is from 1/5 to 1/6 of the American, it’s more likely that they will destroy China, albeit giving temporary advantages to the Russian Federation.
      And so - yes, you are right, as in any game with a zero sum (in this case, for three), if someone wins, then at the expense of others.
  7. beer brewing
    beer brewing 27 June 2013 11: 00
    The moment is lost! Break America America will not be able to! Obama's gut is thin for that!
  8. KG_patriot_last
    KG_patriot_last 27 June 2013 12: 08
    good analytics, with pictures

    the struggle for resources is sometimes almost the only goal of war
  9. rodya
    rodya 27 June 2013 12: 21
    Great work done, thanks for the good article.
  10. ed65b
    ed65b 27 June 2013 13: 12
    And Vaska listens and eats.
  11. Semurg
    Semurg 27 June 2013 13: 40
    The choice of two evils allows China to become, by 2018, the first economy in the world and the yuan the world reserve currency, or to bring down the global consumer goods factory with a further global crisis. A difficult choice and difficult times await us.