February 13, 2008
Valérie Niquet, director of the Asia Centre at IFRI, gave an overview of the energy situation in
China, saying the country was currently “in a learning phase” due to its rapid economic development. The Chinese strategy, Niquet said, is to:
- Develop its own oil and gas resources, including offshore – a strategy which is causing tensions with neighbouring countries in the South China and
- Decrease its oil consumption (import dependency is set to rise from 50% now to 80% in 2030, according to the IEA).
- Diversify its energy resources with increased use of gas and nuclear power (coal, which currently covers 70% of
China’s energy needs, is not expected to fall below 60%, Niquet said).
Niquet said there were two conflicting schools of thought in China on energy, both of which are heavily marked by fears about
China’s “vulnerability” to external suppliers:
- The economic approach (supported by a minority but gaining ground) which argues in favour of a rapprochement with other big energy-consuming nations in the IEA and advocates using China’s trade mightiness to weigh more heavily on the world’s major energy suppliers, notably Saudi Arabia and Russia.
- The classical security approach (currently favoured by a majority), closer to the “military-industrial lobby”, which uses the rhetoric of “survival” and portrays China as being under siege from external forces (for example, US influence in
Taiwan). The result is a “go-out” policy turned towards Central Asia and Africa (the latter accounting for 30% of
China’s oil imports).
Turning to the implications for Europe, Niquet said the EU needed to strengthen its energy dialogue with
China, including on environmental issues and relations with third countries.
From Eur ActivAuthor : EMI