CHINA IN CENTRAL ASIA: ENERGY INTERESTS AND ENERGY POLICY
Vladimir PARAMONOV, Alexey STROKOV
Vladimir Paramonov, Ph.D. (Political Science), Independent Expert (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Alexey Strokov, Independent Expert (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
In the mid-1990s, China displayed the first flickers of interest in the Central Asian fuel and energy complex, which has been steadily growing since that time along with Beijing’s interest in other spheres of the region’s economy. In the latter half of the last decade of the 20th century, the project activities of China and Chinese companies in the Central Asian energy segment were concentrated in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas sector. In the early 21st century, however, this interest began gradually spreading to the rest of the region to become diversified by the industry’s branches. Today, China is showing a lot of interest in the oil and gas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and in the nuclear power production of the former. China is paying enough attention to the fuel and energy complexes of the rest of the region to promote its economic and political interests in each of the states and the region as a whole.
The Role and Place of Energy in China’s Strategies
Domestic policy. China’s general strategy is geared toward boosting the efficiency of the planned and centralized state administration and management of its ramified and dynamically developing economy, while liberalizing economic activities at home. This calls for a balance between the traditional socialist and the capitalist conceptual and ideological attitudes, principles, and goals designed to preserve the country’s integrity and security and ensure its sustainable development. The national-state ideology and the leading role of the Communist Party of China are never questioned.
This means that the Chinese fuel and energy complex is intended to ensure consistent development of all the economic segments, social and economic stability, and stronger military and political might. China’s energy policy was and is concentrated on the following: (1) stage-by-stage development of the domestic raw material base of the national fuel and energy complex; (2) its accelerated technological modernization; and (3) diversification of national power production by using all types of energy sources.
Foreign policy. China is seeking a place among the key players on the global economic and political scene. It is placing its stakes on greater efficiency and attractiveness of the Chinese economic model while trying to find a niche for the country in the global processes and the quest for mechanisms of their efficient management badly needed to preserve its integrity, sustainable development, and security, as well as its position in the world.
Applied to the energy sphere, the above means that Beijing should protect its economic interests and its influence in the global and regional energy markets by acquiring firm positions in long-term contacts with fuel-rich countries (the Central Asian countries included) to guarantee a consistent inflow of raw materials into its fuel and energy complex. Today, its interests are concentrated on hydrocarbons; tomorrow they will spread to………………