20 May 2012

China And The Politics Of Oil

China's options vis-a-vis the all-important resource - oil:

As a rising power dependent on imported oil, China might be said to have three options. First, China could trust that the free market in energy will continue to function. This would imply a belief that unlike Germany and Japan, China will not end up in a conflict that disrupts the operation of the market and involves the interdiction of its imports. Second, China might pursue the military capability necessary to project power and secure its global energy supply lines. The United States currently possesses a blue-water navy and long-range aircraft with refueling that allows it to police the seas and guarantee the operation of international markets. In pursuit of this second option, China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), would acquire equivalent forces. A third option—call it the indirect approach[2]—would be for China to defend its overseas energy supplies by disrupting hostile alliances and replacing them with a network of well-armed friends or client states along key oil routes. This would raise the costs of imposing an embargo or blockade on China. If Beijing could shape the international environment such that any power contemplating interdicting Chinese oil would have to think twice, then China would not need American-style power projection to secure its supplies.

The spice must flow!

H/t: The Interpreter > Eurasia Review > Foreign Policy Research Institute


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