China is muscling into Iraq's oil sector as Baghdad grapples with defections by international majors like Exxon Mobil and Chevron of the United States and France's Total.
This is part of Beijing's drive to secure oil and natural gas resources in the Middle East and Africa as U.S. influences wanes.
China's clout in Iraq, along with other parts of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, is bound to increase as the Americans' diminishes.
With U.S. domestic production expected to soar from vast shale oil deposits, Washington may not be too upset at that prospect since ultimately it will mean withdrawing costly military forces from the Middle East, as Britain did in 1971.
If that happens, China will find itself with vulnerable maritime routes for its energy imports, just as the Americans have for the last three decades. Saudi Arabia already ships more oil eastward to Asia than it does to the West.
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