Saturday, March 24, 2007

Further setting the world stage

Given the rousing success of Bush's recent tour of Latin America and that ill-advised event's exposure of the near uniform animosity that much of Latin American has for US foreign and trade policy, it is not without interest that China and Venezuela have been working on a "raft of oil deals," which surely promises a raft of conniptions for neocons and other agents of American empire.
The China National Petroleum Corp. will look to develop heavy crude oil production in the Orinoco Belt and cooperate with Venezuela in building three refineries in China and a ''super-fleet'' of crude tankers....

Chavez has ambitious plans to lift oil exports to China to lessen its dependence on its arch-foe the United States, saying it hopes to send 1 million barrels per day to China by 2012.

This optimistic target follows an earlier goal of more than tripling oil exports to China of 160,000 bpd by 2009.

The Information Ministry said CNPC would sign on Monday a preliminary deal to take a 40 percent stake in various Venezuelan heavy crude projects.

CNPC is already working in the Junin 4 block but Chavez said the Chinese oil giant wanted to expand its Orinoco operations with "billions of dollars'' of investment.
Little noticed as it will be at the headline level in the US, such news, combined with Chavez's intent to nationalize Venezuela's oil industry and relieve US multinationals of their majority ownership in that country' heavy crude projects, spells out a clear signal and it is not one likely to be viewed with ease by Washington. Exxon Mobile, Chevron and Conoco Phillips will all be pushed out in favour of the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), if this joint venture moves forward. Furthermore, Venezuela is openly seeking to align itself with the expanding counterweight to American global dominance.
While sidelining such majors, Chavez is seeking to do more business with China, Russia and Iran, part of forming what he describes as a multipolar alliance against the United States.
Both China and Russia have resisted greater economic sanctions against Iran, as have been demanded by the United States. With Venezuela keen to join the blossoming axis, the importance of this latest move by China to secure Venezuelan oil cannot be overstated. China appears more than willing to take up the investment slack in Venezuela if and when US interests decide to pull out.

Of equal note is that the Sino-Venezuelan agreement would see this new "super fleet" of tankers supply not just the Chinese mainland but also send crude oil to Africa, where the Chinese have also been recently and aggressively pursuing trade agreements. Chinese trade with Africa increased by almost 40% last year, whereby the Chinese have been busy securing oil interests and other raw materials in order to fuel the rapidly expanding Chinese economy. Shipping oil to Africa would be seen in the long term as further stoking Chinese economic expansion on the continent. Moreover, it can be expected that control of the Panama Canal could once again become a contentious issue should American interests really start feeling the pinch once China's super fleet of tankers starts shipping petroleum across the Pacific. Do not be surprised if some US administration develops a need to bring more democracy to Panama in the future.

This is not to say that the Russian-Iran-China axis can be expected to be better or worse than any western imperialism seen to date. In fact, there is good reason to believe that, in some respects, increasing domination by this axis could be significantly worse for many. Russia has already demonstrated an abhorrent ability to brutally smack down dissent with its treatment of the Chechens. And China, of course, is more than willing to allow the Dafur disaster continue apace, as its interests in protecting oil leases with Sudan subvert world demand to end the flagrant and massive humanitarian crisis. Elsewhere, Chinese companies have already established some of the worst sweatshops on the African continent, exporting their well-honed anti-labour practices there, just as resentment within China's own borders grows to uncomfortable levels. The Chinese haven't yet learned how to keep sweatshop labour markets at arm's length, nor does it seem they care. Establishing a firm economic foothold in Africa is of far more significance than swaying to criticisms over humanitarian concerns. Besides, it's Africa. The first world doesn't really care. Look how long Sudan has gotten away with the horror show that is Darfur. To rapidly expanding economies and western interests, Africa is simply a pot of oil, diamonds, copper and poor people willing, and perhaps not so, to work for nothing.

Nonetheless, the expansive and expanding power and influence of the three countries, which continue to align themselves against US interests -- with Venezuela anxious to join the fray -- has been and will continue to be a source of significant concern to western interests, especially the United States. Ironically, it was the ill-advised and wholly illegal invasion of Iraq that spelled out the need for these countries to align themselves in an effort to resist the American drive for "global benevolent hegemony." If anything, the invasion of Iraq set in motion the repeal of American hegemony, as Bush administration policy has bankrupted the country and drained its military reserves. Certainly Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela have all seen the opening created by the ruinous Bush administration and they are ready to pounce. In fact, they are pouncing already.

But what have we in the United States been doing while the geopolitical struggle for world hegemony has been taking place? Why, spying on ourselves, that's what.

[for further reading on geopolitical struggle for dominance of Eurasian oil and gas supplies, see Pipelines and Imperial Missions.]


Anonymous Rockwell said...

I have wondered why more hasn't been made of the new radar installations the Chinese are helping the Venezuelans install. I heard Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S. speak of these in an offhand manner under the guise of helping fight drugs.

We'll see if Chavez can shift away from his dependence on the U.S. as an oil customer. China could take up the slack.

1:50 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Hi Rick,

Indeed, that seems very much to be the plan.

2:56 AM  

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