Opec on the Cheek from the PRC
As the world's second largest consumer of oil, and the fourth or the sixth largest world economy (depending on how you reckon it), China's demand for oil can only grow. Currently most of its energy demands are met by coal, with is not only extremely damaging for the environment but inefficient and unsustainable. There's a mine disaster every week in China.
Moreover, petroleum products contribute more than just energy to China's economy, but also transportation and plastics etc..
Thus it makes a lot of sense for China to improve ties with Opec.
Read between the lines, however, and a couple of things come to light. China's recent restatement of its economic figures for example - is it mere co-incidence or was the CCP showing its hand before entering the talks?
And finally the obvious point that most of Opec's members are Islamic nations. They have probably never been more hostile to the US than now; not only has the Iraq invasion angered the general populace but the seeming positive moves towards democracy may well have unnerved the current generation of sheikhs and other unelected despots that pull the Opec strings.
Everyone's unhappy with the West. So time to make new friends, perhaps.
So there's no better time for China to be getting in there. The middle eastern and central Asian oil-producing nations that lie between Europe and East Asia are the new battlegrounds of the new cold war. BBC report reprinted below.
Opec and China forge closer ties
Opec officials have arrived in Beijing for the first formal talks between the oil producing cartel and China.
Chinese leaders are keen to secure supplies of oil to fuel the country's rapidly expanding economy.
Opec, meanwhile, wants to develop closer ties with the world's second-largest oil consumer.
With world oil supplies currently stretched, Opec says it wants to gain a better understanding of China's appetite for oil.
Oil producing nations are facing an investment bill for billions of dollars to ramp-up production at oilfields in a bid to meet soaring demand.
Leading exporter Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of Opec nations calling on consumers to draw-up a "road map" of their energy needs.
Opec president Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah said China's rapid economic growth was changing the oil market.
"They started to play a main role in the market and they even succeeded in changing the culture of the market in 2004 and 2005," he said.
"We started this dialogue to... try to have some co-operation, especially for the future and to know what will be the situation of growth of demand in China."
"It's a win-win situation," said Opec's acting Secretary-General Adnan Shihab-Eldin. "China being a major consumer... there have been growing imports from Opec countries over the last few years."
The Opec meetings in China come as Chinese figures suggest the country is continuing to climb up the world economic rankings.
According to a state report earlier this week, China's economy was 16.8% larger in 2004 than initially calculated, putting the country into sixth place in terms of economic size, ahead of Italy and close behind the UK and France.