FEEM working papers "Note di lavoro" series
2012 .048

Why Are the Stakes So High? Misconceptions and Misunderstandings in China’s Global Quest for Energy Security


Authors: ZhongXiang Zhang
Series: Energy: Resources and Markets
Editor: Giuseppe Sammarco
Keywords: Energy Security, Global Quest for Resources, U.S.-Led Oil Blockade Against China, Loan-for-Oil and -Gas Deals, Equity Oil Production, Chinese Policy Banks, Going-Out Policies, National Oil Companies
JEL n.: O13, O53, Q34, Q37, Q41, Q43, Q48

Abstract

China’s global quest for resources, in particular oil and natural gas, has received unprecedented worldwide attention and scrutiny. This is partly because of China’s own high-profile, active energy diplomacy, its national oil companies’ acquisitions in the key exporting regions of oil and natural gas and some debatable issues about the management and operation of these companies. But why the stakes are raised unnecessarily high is mainly because of the growing politicization of Chinese energy security as a result of misconceptions and misunderstandings of China’s quest for energy security both inside and outside China. This paper aims to de-politicize the debate on China’s global quest for energy resources and to put discussions on that issue into perspective. To that end, the paper first categorizes the main features of China’s energy mix and discusses why energy security in China equates to a large extent to oil security. The paper then pays special attention to misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding the hypothesized U.S.-led oil blockade against China; the Chinese policy banks and their oil and natural gas-based loans; and the role of Chinese investments in oil and gas fields overseas in discussions on China’s global quest for energy resources. Finally, the paper ends with some concluding remarks on a more constructive way forward.

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