(Quartz) More than 1,000 stranded Chinese workers are being evacuated from war-torn northern Iraq today via helicopters and buses, according to Chinese state media, as a violent Sunni insurgency threatens to tear the country apart. The emergency operation highlights China's heavy investment in Iraq, as well as the drawbacks of China's foreign investment strategy that focuses on less-explored and often unstable regions.
China arguably benefited the most from the US invasion of Iraq and the bloody insurgency and civil war that followed. Beijing is Baghdad's biggest customer for oil exports, in part because Chinese firms were willing to accept lower profit margins, play by the central government's rules, and tolerate the security risks created by the country's political instability. Now, with Iraq on the brink and militants threatening an invasion of Baghdad, China may have the most to lose.