China and the Geopolitics of Oil in the Asian Pacific Region
China’s growing demand for oil is significantly changing the international geopolitics of energy, especially in the Asian Pacific region. The recent growth in oil consumption, combined with forecasts of increased oil imports (especially from the Middle East), have led to deep concern among Chinese leaders regarding their country’s energy security. They are responding in a number of different ways. In particular, they are determined to increase the security and reliability of oil imports by searching for new sources of supply, and to control purchases and transport lanes, while boosting national production at any cost. This is already causing tension and could lead to further disputes with the US and other big oil consumers, such as Japan and India, as well as with other Asian Pacific countries. However, enhanced cooperation among the big East Asian economies (China, Japan and South Korea) is also a possibility. This document first of all presents an overview of China’s energy sector, emphasising the strong growth in its energy demand to date and its potential for future growth. Secondly, we look at the oil sector, highlighting China’s growing dependence on imports. The third part deals with the Chinese perception of energy security in the oil sector. Finally, the fourth part focuses on the geopolitical implications for the Asian Pacific region of China’s search for oil.
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