Rebecca Wai '18 explains findings from her study of China's use of energy projects for political gain, which she presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research
In my research I found that China’s energy projects in foreign countries are not created exclusively for economic gain but rather to produce strategic benefits.
In return for needed energy infrastructure, Asian governments feel an obligation to back China diplomatically. China needs support to suppress local separatist movements and promote its Belt and Road Initiative, China’s grand plan to connect over 60 countries along the Old Silk Road and beyond.By example, in 2013 China invested in an unprofitable oil field in Kazakhstan. In return China received strong support for using Kazakhstan as one of its key points in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Because China is using energy projects to increase influence, global leaders must change the way they view China’s involvement in foreign countries. It’s imperative for policymakers and diplomatic leaders to become aware that China’s energy projects are not gestures of goodwill.
The whole tension between the U.S. and China is about who should be the dominant superpower in Asia. Without a firm grip on understanding how energy is being used as a political tool, world leaders won’t fully understand how the world is evolving.