This year’s UEFA Europa League final was held in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. Intriguingly, the nation is actually quite related to the currently escalating US-China trade war.
Azerbaijan straddles the borders of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, and was a key point of the ancient Silk Road, with Baku being the largest port in the Caspian Sea.
As a result, Azerbaijan has been viewed as a key player to woo over since Beijing put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013.
Azerbaijan also has ample oil and gas resources. Its proven oil reserves are estimated at 7 billion barrels, exceeding the combined 6.7 billion barrels of 27 EU nations. The nation, in fact, was one of the birthplaces of the oil industry.
Fu Chengyu, former chairman of PetroChina, warned that China should brace for a scenario in which its overseas oil supply would be entirely blocked in the short term as its trade conflict with the United States worsened.
If the US moves to cut off China’s oil supply from the Persian Gulf, Azerbaijan could play a critical role in securing the supply via the Caspian Sea.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in late May, during which he stressed that his country considers China a friend and partner, and will unconditionally support China on its core interests and key issues.
Azerbaijan has actively participated in the BRI, and both sides have great potential in oil and gas explorations, he added.
As such, Azerbaijan could be one of Beijing’s key allies in fighting against Washington.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 31
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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