China, India Improve Relations

After many years of competition between their two countries, Chinese and Indian officials are now drawing up energy agreements. What does China have to gain?

China and India have set aside their longstanding rivalry to forge an energy alliance. On January 11, India’s petroleum minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, attended three days of talks to create energy agreements with the Chinese.

Both China and India are highly reliant on imported oil: India imports 70 percent of its oil; China ships in about half its supply. Demand for petroleum in both areas—the two most populous countries on Earth—is increasing rapidly. Aiyar believes India’s need for imported oil will have risen to 85 percent of consumption within 15 years.

These talks come at an especially volatile time on the world energy scene. Many countries fear that the supply of oil from Iran—given the unpredictability of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—will soon become unreliable. Thus, one result of his nuclear standoff with the Western world is a tidal wave of new energy agreements. Russia also alarmed many nations when it temporarily stopped gas shipments through the Ukraine. Setting up stable energy supplies is a primary focus for many countries—especially those highly dependent on imported oil like China and India.

India’s reasons for wanting to do business with the Chinese are obvious. India was recently outmaneuvered by Chinese companies in its attempts to acquire oil fields in Angola, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Ecuador. As analysts at Stratfor said, with Chinese companies consistently outbidding their Indian counterparts, India approaches these negotiations “with the desperation of a player that knows it has no options” (January 12).

China’s motivation to do business with India is less clear. In recent months, Chinese officials have had similar negotiations with Vietnam, Iran and Turkmenistan—even rogue state North Korea. Stratfor points out, though, that China’s dealings with India will produce far less money than its other ventures. China’s main reasons for engaging in these talks is not economic. Nor is it simply a grab for resources.

Rather, China wants to build for itself a friendly and strategically beneficial political standing in the region.

While these deals will gain political points with New Delhi, China will also “bolster its regional image as a cooperative and caring neighbor” (ibid.). Rather than appearing as an economic juggernaut that could crush Indian competition, China is representing itself as a friend—not only to India, but to the entire region. China is actively working to lead the Asian economic community and to create a free-trade zone through asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

As a first step, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. have jointly purchased a Syrian oil field. India’s Aiyar pointed to this deal as a model for future cooperation between the two governments.

The Trumpet has long predicted that relations between China and its neighbors will improve. Bible prophecy tells us that Asia will align both politically and militarily; in fact, Bible prophecy shows that this region will form the most powerful army in history—200 million soldiers!

To learn about this scriptural forecast and study where world events within Asia are headed, please request Russia and China in Prophecy.