Chinese Merchants Target Northern Iraq

Posted on February 15, 2011

A Chinese woman stocks the shelves of her store in a Chinese marketplace in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq.  She got there because she responded to an ad from a Chinese company. She and the company believe there will be expanding opportunities in this region of Iraq:

“I came to do business here. I think people are not very clever here. They need people to come with good idea to sell things here,” Ling, 34, said.

“So I can help people here and they can help me.”

The Chinese market is in the newly opened Kawa Mall in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan’s second city. Chinese people, outlets and a restaurant dominate the top two floors, which are reserved for firms from the world’s second biggest economy, of the Kurdish-owned shopping centre.

With her husband, mother and sister also in the city, Ling has felt comfortable enough to move from living among the Chinese community to living within a Kurdish one.

“I want some touch with Kurdi people. They have some good idea. They know what job is good, what business is good. We want to know that,” she said. [al Jazeera – English]

The above merchant is one of a growing number of Chinese in this region.  It is remarkable that this area was targeted by Chinese business and action taken on their projected success there.  As they have done in countless other countries, they are not interested in pursuing the issue of human rights with the state; they are interested in pursuing commerce.

The question remains:  Is this another area of the world in which China will outstrip the US and other western countries?  Just when we thought US troops had made the country safe for democracy, we find they have made it safe for Chinese merchants!  In truth, there is the possibility that the US will be the unwelcome visitor in most of the middle east.  Our influence has been compromised by lackluster administration policies in the region and a generous portion of Obama “dithering.”