China’s wide-ranging quest for oil may bring about clashes with U.S.

China is desperate for oil to fuel its booming economy, and it’s got plenty of cash to pay for it and few of the humanitarian scruples that still (occasionally) restrain the U.S. Some analysts worry that these circumstances will lead to conflict between the two nations. Most alarmingly, China recently cut a $70 billion deal with Iran that many observers believe involved a tacit pledge of support for the Islamic republic’s budding nuclear program, which the U.S. has harshly denounced. China is also pouring money into Sudan, a country denounced by the U.S. and others for human-rights abuses. These are among the some 27 nations being courted by the Chinese, who “are throwing incredible amounts of money to lock up long-term [energy] contracts,” says China scholar David Lampton. With the Asian behemoth’s demand for oil expected to rise at double-digit annual rates for the next 15 years, the chances for conflict will only increase.