Energy in Sino-American Relations: Putting Mutual Anxiety in Context

Zha Daojiong is Professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China.
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • May 2007

    Mutual anxiety will dictate relations between Beijing and Washington over energy and related geo-strategic matters. There is little doubt that the United States cannot tolerate obstruction, real or perceived, to its access to sufficient volumes of foreign oil, now or in the future. Also, particularly between now and the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, China will find it a paramount imperative not to suffer from a major reduction in or deliberate disruption to its foreign energy supply. As in the past, American and Chinese oil companies will still have to compete against each other for the same oil assets in a third country. The lack of mutual dependence in energy trade between China and the United States makes it tempting to enter into geopolitically inspired competition. This orientation falls short of the goal of effectively managing competition between the two countries. Instead, future activities and programmes should aim at mutually offering reassurance about a benign strategic intent towards the other side.