China’s Geopolitical Economy of Energy Security

A Theoretical and Conceptual Exploration

in African and Asian Studies
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Abstract

China’s transition to an urban-industrial society relies predominantly on its abundant domestic coal supplies and, secondly, on an increase in oil and gas imports. For this reason, China’s strategic investments in the oil and gas industries of resource-rich, energy-exporting countries have vastly increased. Given the high levels of import-dependency, the domestic power-wealth structures in China rely on uninterrupted supplies from beyond state borders. In their search for supply security, major import-dependent actors have two options. One is to reduce dependency by, for instance, higher energy efficiency. Another option is to increase the security of energy imports. This requires improving supply security from resource-rich oil- and gas-exporting countries and regions. The significant growth in the overseas assets and activities of China’s state-led National Oil Companies (nocs) are crucial to China’s energy supply security. In this study we argue that the transnational activities of Chinese nocs are part of the country’s so-called ‘statist’, state-led economic globalization, in the course of which some developing economies have become global political powers.

In this paper we outline the approach and the conceptual foundations to understand geopolitical economy of energy security in China based on the following section: [1] the unit of analysis in the Political Economy of Energy. [2] Sequential industrialization and its global impacts, [3] Fossil fuel security and resource-scarcity, [4] China’s power structure, state class, and industrialization, [5] Industrialization, lateral pressure, the geopolitical economy and China’s external relations [6] National oil companies: changing the game.

China’s Geopolitical Economy of Energy Security

A Theoretical and Conceptual Exploration

in African and Asian Studies

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