During the 9th century, Arab traders regularly plied lucrative maritime routes that connected the Persian Gulf to southern China by way of the Indian Ocean. This commercial activity, which mostly involved jade, silk, and other luxury goods, went on for centuries and became part of what is now known as the Silk Road. In some ways, the world is now witnessing a restoration of that ancient trading relationship between two civilizations—except that oil and consumer goods have replaced jade and silk. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) presided over one of the most remarkable economic expansions in modern history. From 1990 to 2000, gross domestic product (GDP) grew an average of 9 percent each year, lifting millions out of poverty.1 In order to sustain this growth and continue providing jobs to the growing number of citizens entering the labor market, the government not only needed to find new markets for Chinese exports; it also had to secure additional energy sources to keep factories and the economy as a whole running.