China is overtaking the U.S. as a buyer of Middle East oil, adding fuel to diplomatic tension between the nations over security in the region.
China surpassed the U.S. as importer of Persian Gulf crude several years ago, by some measures. Now it is on track to overtake the U.S. this year as the world’s No. 1 buyer of oil from the OPEC
The turnabout has added to tensions because it leaves the U.S. military securing China’s growing oil shipments in the region at a time Beijing resists U.S. pressure on it to back American foreign policy in the Middle East.
For years, China and other oil-consuming nations have benefited as Washington spent billions of dollars a year to police chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and other volatile parts of the world.