China Uses Its Economic Clout as It Attempts to Enforce Nobel Boycott

The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Norway is once again making headlines. In 2009, the controversial winner was President Barack Obama -- who had been in office for only a few months. This year's laureate is an imprisoned Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, and the award has created a public relations headache for Beijing.

The Chinese government is denouncing the ceremony, while suppressing overseas media coverage of the peace prize at home. It's also blasting anyone making an issue about Liu's imprisonment as "anti-China clowns" who are interfering "in China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty."

The People's Republic has called on other governments to boycott the Nobel ceremony in Oslo Friday -- and about 20 countries have agreed to stay away from the event. While dozens more nations ignored the boycott, it's a telling sign of China's growing economic clout when you look at who won't be attending the ceremony.

Here are some of the countries that aren't sending representatives to Oslo -- and their economic ties to China:


While the U.S. spends billions of dollars a year fighting the Afghan conflict, China is reaping significant economic results from its ties to the Kabul government. In late 2007, China's state-owned China Metallurgical Group signed a $2.9 billion deal with Afghanistan to extract copper from the Aynak deposit -- believed to be one of the largest copper deposits in the world. The Afghan minister of mines, meanwhile, denied reports he had received about $30 million in bribes from MCC in exchange for the contract. The Xinhua news agency says Afghan-China trade has grown rapidly, reaching $155 million in 2008. China has also zeroed tariffs on hundreds of export products from Afghanistan -- while donating more than 900 million yuan ($130 million) in aid to Afghanistan over the past eight years


Trade between China and Colombia reportedly reached nearly $3.4 billion last year -- and China is now the second-largest exporter of Colombian goods. A Chinese diplomat recently predicted a Chinese-Colombian Free Trade Agreement within the next two or three years.


Ideological allies from the Cold War days, China has helped Cuba fend off economic collapse in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to the U.S. State Department, China is the second-largest exporter of Cuban goods -- and Havana's second-largest supplier of imports. Cuba-China trade was over $525 million in 2004. That same year, Beijing signed several memorandums of understanding regarding more than $500 million in investments. China is also the main market for Cuban nickel exports.


China is expected to surpass the U.S. this year as Egypt's largest trading partner. China-Egypt trade volume reportedly hit $2.6 billion in 2008. China Daily, meanwhile, says construction of the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone project should be completed around 2018. The project is expected to attract 2 billion yuan ($293 million) in investment during the next decade. Its first phase is expected to be finished next year.


China has widespread interests in Iraq's oil production. In 2008, the Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC), along with Chinese firm Zhenhua Oil, signed a multi-decade agreement to work in Iraq's al-Ahdab oil field -- which has an estimated one billion barrel oil reserve.


Western sanctions against Iran opened the Islamic Republic up to Chinese investment and economic ties. China is a major exporter of Iranian oil and one of Teheran's top financial partners. Last year, according to the American Enterprise Institute's website, "China became Iran's most significant trade partner, with bilateral exchanges worth $21.2 billion compared to $14.4 billion three years earlier."


Trade between China and the former Soviet Republic totaled nearly $73 billion. According to the China Briefing website, several Chinese companies have made about $4.4 billion in investments with state oil firm KazMunaiGaz and on a deal to construct a hydro-power plant, Kazakhstan's State Statistics Agency says Kazakh exports to China totaled $5.5 billion in the first seven months of 2010. The two countries also recently opened a free-trade zone along their mutual border.


"Pakistan and China are two friendly countries and partners in international trade and investment," says Pakistan Defence, the unofficial website of Pakistan's armed forces. The site remarks on the high demand for Chinese goods in the Pakistani market -- and that China has become one of Pakistan's "top five import sources" for items such as machinery, electrical appliances and chemicals. Bilateral trade between the two nations reportedly reached about $7 billion in 2008. And, according to the site, existing China-Pakistan trade is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2012.

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The Philippines

Manila's Department of Foreign Affairs says trade between China and the Philippines increased by more than 52% during the first half of 2010, to $13.1 billion. In 2009, China reportedly became the Philippines' second-largest trading partner, after Japan.


Bilateral trade between Russia and China is expected to reach nearly $57 billion by year's end. Chinese media reports a Russia-to-China crude oil pipeline was completed last month. The project is expected to transfer 15 million tons of oil annually.

Saudi Arabia

As China's demand for oil grows, so do its economic ties to the kingdom. A recent New York Times article notes Saudi-Chinese trade grew from $290 million in 1990 -- when the two nations established diplomatic ties -- to an estimated $40 billion in 2008. The Saudis reportedly supply about one million barrels of oil daily to China, an estimated one-fifth of China's crude oil imports. And, according to the Times, Saudi Arabia "is investing to expand Chinese capacity for refining Saudi heavy crude."


Beijing has expanded its economic and political links to Venezuela. Last year, according to the Los Angeles Times, President Hugo Chavez said China was buying about 338,000 barrels of oil from Venezuela each day -- a number that he estimated could rise to one million barrels daily by 2012. The Times says the Chinese are also investing billions of dollars in a Venezuelan heavy oil project.