Advances in Applied Sociology
2012. Vol.2, No.4, 325-343
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes . 325
China’s Energy Diplomacy: SOE Relations in the Context of
Global Distribution and Investment Pattern
Hui-Chi Yeh1, Chi-Wei Yu2
1Politics and International Relations, Un i v ersity of Southampton, Southampton, UK
2Department of Politics, N ational Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Received September 23rd, 2012; revi se d Oc t ob e r 24th, 2012; accepted November 7th, 2012
This article addresses the mercantilist connotations of China’s energy diplomacy through empirical and
quantitative approaches by arguing that: firstly, the economic logic motivating Chinese enterprises is not
the key variable in the formulation of foreign investment decisions; secondly, the energy security policies
of the Chinese government are key variables which decide the distribution of SOEs’ foreign investment;
thirdly, China’s energy diplomacy is mercantilist in nature due to the weakness of its SOEs in the struc-
ture of the international market; finally, under the premise of satisfying its government’s energy security
policy, SOEs have autonomy in their approaches to investment. Therefore, it may be reasoned that under
specific conditions, mercantilism and liberalism can both explain China’s energy diplomacy. This article
provides compelling evidence supporting this reasoning, through analyzing cases studies in the Middle
East, Central Asia and Africa.
Keywords: Mercantilism; China’s Energy Diplomacy; State Owned Enterprises (SOEs)
China’s establishment of energy strategies and diplomacy
principles based on concepts of diversification and outreach,
initiated the entry of its major state-owned companies into
global markets and propagated substantial increases in global
energy prices. Some viewed this in neo-colonialist terms, as it
deepened the dependency of energy rich developing nations on
China (Blair, 2007) and contributed little to poverty alleviation
(Polgreen & French, 2007). Others viewed such investments as
mercantilist and aimed at strengthening national power. Never-
theless, both views fail to represent fully the overseas invest-
ments of Chinese energy corporations. There has been limited
academic research on the geographical composition of Chinese
energy diplomacy, most of which has been conducted by entre-
preneurs and executives in Chinese energy corporations. Xu
Xiaojie, the former director of the Office of Overseas Invest-
ment for the state-owned China National Petroleum Corpora-
tion (CNPC), discussed the role of China in future global en-
ergy strategies, and emphasized the relationship between the
energy rich nations of Central Asia and the Middle East and
China’s energy security (Xu, 1998). Director Xin Zhang of the
International Division of the CNPC and Deputy Wang Jiashu of
the Mining Resources Committee of the China Mining Asso-
ciation (CMA) highlighted the significant role that the Middle
East plays in China’s energy diplomacy and security strategy
(Wang, 2004; Li, 2003; Zekun, 2004).
The development of Chinese energy corporations has lagged
behind Western counterparts, due in part to international
mechanisms and systems for controlling energy prices by Mid-
dle Eastern nations. This makes regional investment decisions
costly, and also contradicts the principle of diversification,
which aims to reduce the risk of interference in domestic mar-
ket prices. However, from recent global investment patterns of
Chinese energy corporations, the number of cases where ex-
traction and ownership permits were purchased from oil pro-
ducing countries greatly exceeded the number of direct oil pur-
chase cases. This casts doubt on literature which emphasizes
the Middle East’s role in building energy security.
This article aims to test the dominant theory that China’s en-
ergy diplomacy exhibits mercantilism, in order to adequately
explain China’s relations with energy rich developing nations.
This article examines the contracts made by the CNPC, the
China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and the
China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (CPCC) with energy
rich nations from 1993 to 2008, and analyzes the relationships
between both private and public sectors.
In examining these relations, it is important to recognize re-
gional dynamics, as resource endowments vary regionally.
Consequently, selected regions should be endowed with sub-
stantial gas and petroleum resources. Therefore, Europe, Asia-
Pacific and South Asia are excluded. Secondly, mercantilism
places strong emphasis on national/governmental interference
in market principles or economic order. So when a host coun-
try’s national power exceeds that of China, two sets of variables
(interference from both the host country and Chinese govern-
ment) may occur in testing processes. Consequently, the case
studies selected focus upon Central Asia, the Middle East, and
Mercantilism and the Growth of
Despite the importance of mercantilism in international po-
litical economics, no universal definition exists (Mcdermott,
1999). Robert Gilpin cited economic nationalism when con-
ceptualizing mercantilism and neo-mercantilism (Lairson &
Skidmore, 2002; Gilpin, 1987). Goldstein argued that economic
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
activities represent national development and interests (Gold-
stein, 2003). Mercantilism originated from European nations’
overseas expansion between 1500 and 1776, which was viewed
as a nation’s pursuit of power and wealth. In countries with
declining economic performance, rent-seeking actors would
adopt free trade and modern political economic measures to
enhance national power economically. In these early stages of
mercantilism, gold and silver represented national power and
wealth, and led to over-emphasized protectionism (Schmiege-
low & Schmiegelow, 1975), through attempts to simultaneously
increase import costs and exports (Buzan & Little, 2009). This
resulted in zero-sum schemes in the international economy.
However, from 1750 onwards, many countries were affected
by the excessive importation of British products, which
prompted less developed countries to embrace trade and do-
mestic industry protectionism. Scholars, like Frederick List,
who advocated protectionism and state interference, were
termed neo-mercantilists. Unlike mercantilists, neo-mercantil-
ists believed that nations should seek rare resources and poten-
tial markets abroad, in addition to determining national power
through alternative measures including population, transporta-
tion systems, and wider definitions for economic power, rather
than in terms of gold and silver (Bohning, 1979).
According to the definitions of mercantilism and neo-mer-
cantilism, their characteristics could be categorized accordingly:
firstly, the core concept conceived that economic activities
depended on national development or interests (Goldstein,
2003); secondly, economic activities aimed to increase social
welfare and national interests, and all national industries should
be protected (Gilpin, 1987); thirdly, economic strategies advo-
cated by mercantilism focused on protecting or developing
domestic industries. These strategies include the provision of
foreign aid or subsidies to boost domestic economic develop-
ment, strengthen tariff or non-tariff barriers to protect domestic
industries, or strengthen international competitiveness of do-
mestic industries through economic or political subsidies;
fourth, the concept of power and wealth was interchangeable
(Dougherty & Pfaltzgraff, 2002); finally, industrialization pro-
moted economic development. Sound economic power was
fundamental to protecting national sovereignty while industri-
alization further strengthened national military power (Gilpin,
Following WWII, when global economic markets embraced
liberalization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT) and World Trade Organization (WTO) began consoli-
dating and implementing free trade, and progressively elimi-
nating mercantilism. Moreover, the measurement of national
power in gold and silver terms became outdated; like currency,
these commodities became merely trading tools. In facing
similar critiques, mercantilism faced strong opposition and led
protectionism advocates to pursue alternative ideas, primarily in
specialized or technology-intensive industries like energy,
communication technology, and aviation (Held, Mcgrew, Gold-
blatt, & Perraton, 1999).
Economic development began in East Asia after WWII,
through the adoption of the development strategy of “Rational
Planning”, directing markets when appropriate, protecting new
and high technology industries, and integrating resources into
technological growth (Wang, 2003). The theories associated
with this development strategy were neo-protectionism and
strategic trade theory. Neo-protectionism emphasized increas-
ing import-export profits, while strategic trade theory criticized
free trade theory and overlooked associated developmental
weaknesses (Brander, 1995a). It focused on studying imperfect
competition whilst emphasizing market structure in oligopolies
(Markusen, Melvin, Kaempfer, & Maskus, 1995).
Krugman argued that liberal opposition to US President
Reagan contributed to the rise of strategic trade theory (Krug-
man, 1994). Different from conventional free trade policies,
strategic trade theory stressed that active state interference in
trade policies nurtured national power and economic develop-
ment (Krugman, 1986); such factors are interdependent charac-
teristics of oligopolies (Brander, 1995b). Consequently, profits
from one firm might directly affect the decisions of another. In
imperfect competitive markets, firms are mutually interde-
pendent while governments could increase domestic industrial
competitiveness through appropriate trade policies.
Strategic trade theory stresses the government’s role in do-
mestic industrial development. While conventional free trade
theory promotes constant comparative advantage, strategic
trade theory advocates dynamic comparative advantage, and
suggests that government and industry are capable of fine-tun-
ing comparative advantage. Two examples include investment
in the Japanese semiconductor industry and support for the
European aviation industry (Reimer & Steigert, 2006). More-
over, comparative advantage might be altered by governmental
and industrial accomplishments. This implies that under perfect
free trade regulations, increased competitiveness could be
achievable through governmental market interference. Thus,
competition serves as the basis for international economic rela-
tionships. However, in imperfect competitive markets, the ef-
forts of one government and industry to increase competitive-
ness might be offset by another, ultimately, propagating an “an
eye for an eye” scenario in international economic relationships
(Thurow, 1992).
The hypothesis of this article conceives that Chinese energy
diplomacy exhibits neo-mercantilism. This article developed
four sub-hypotheses based on neo-mercantilist theory and re-
cent developments in Chinese energy corporations and energy
The first sub-hypothesis conceptualizes that economic activi-
ties represe n t national interest s. Thus, the key factor influencing
economic activity is national interest rather than individual
profits. For net oil importing countries, basic interests regard
strengthening energy security. If the energy diplomacy of the
target country resembles neo-mercantilism, the costs of invest-
ment and profits are not principal issues for energy corporations
when making overseas investments. Therefore, the first sub-
hypothesis is: the costs of investment and profits are not key
issues for Chinese energy corporations when making overseas
investments. The relationships are rather weak and insignificant,
and since another major claim of neo-mercantilism, advocating
development through “Rational Planning”, then state interfer-
ence and resource integration for boosting industrial develop-
ment are appropriate. It is widely accepted that profit and in-
vestment decisions of individual firms may be mutually in-
compatible with the interests and decision-making logic of the
nation. Therefore, under these conditions, it is expected that
individual firms play comparatively less significant roles in
making overseas investment decisions. Hence, the second
sub-hypothesis is: when making overseas investment decisions,
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
the main concern for Chinese energy corporations is to ration-
alize government policies on national energy security. Fur-
thermore, though the political-economic system in China con-
tributed to the assumption that Chinese energy diplomacy re-
sembles neo-mercantilism, this partially overlooks the potential
weaknesses of these corporations. The development of Chinese
energy corporations only began when China implemented its
open-access policies. When China established its energy poli-
cies based upon diversification and outreach, global energy
markets were dominated by Western energy corporations. Un-
der such conditions, overseas investments by Chinese energy
corporations tended to display neo-mercantilism. Thus, the
third sub-hypothesis is: The structure of the international en-
ergy market heavily contributed to the overseas investment
scheme of Chinese energy corporations, which explains why
Chinese energy corporations’ investments overseas appear neo-
Conversely, though neo-mercantilism places great emphasis
on government interference and industrial protection, the role
of industry is significant. The case studies show (Downs, 2008)
that such transformations may alter government interference in
overseas investments. In old government-centred relationships,
industry complied with government orders when making in-
vestments. However, the transforming relationship between the
government and industry implies that Chinese corporations are
embracing mergers and acquisitions, to lower investment costs,
while simultaneously consolidating the role corporations play
in global energy markets. Hence, the fourth sub-hypothesis is:
The relationship between the government and state-owned en-
terprises (SOEs) is more optimized for energy corporations and
determines investment decisions, since energy corporations are
capable of allocating resources efficiently and merging with
other trans-national corporations to circumvent direct-entry
Categorization Criteria and Approach
The empirical results of this study show that energy invest-
ments can be categorized into three categories according to the
investment pattern. The first category addresses the investment
based on the rights associated with oil fields. The host country
government or state-owned energy corporations must partici-
pate in formulating investment contracts. These can further be
divided into three sub-categories. Firstly, the right of explora-
tion; a basic principle associated with oil fields. Corporations
have the right to conduct underground investigations for oil
reserves, regardless of whether they own any right over the
field itself. Secondly, concerns the right to extraction. Though
corporations have oil extraction rights in the host country, it
must be conducted legitimately, which often involves sharing
reserves locally. Thirdly, is the right to purchase oil fields and
their associated rights; this permits oil extraction upon payment
of related taxes. However, corporations do not have to share
reserves locally.
The second category emphasizes the commercial supply of
oil or gas, and has no relation to the rights of the oil field.
Though the resource seller may be the host country or a third-
country energy corporation, the buyer does not have to comply
with the host’s regulations, tariffs, or tax system. Though con-
tracts of this category are not restricted by host government
interference, it is expected that prices will fluctuate through
market mechanisms.
The third category addresses the issue of basic infrastructural
development. Buyers of this category do not obtain tangible
resource supplies. However, through the construction of basic
infrastructure, e.g. refineries, pipes, and storage facilities, buy-
ers may expand their flexibility in the energy market, through
obtaining greater bargaining chips when negotiating with host
governments or state-owned corporations. This contract type is
built upon the basic energy related infrastructure in the host
country, thus the host government or state-owned corporation is
significant in formalizing contracts.
For energy importing nations, the ultimate goal of energy di-
plomacy is to build domestic energy security. Therefore, the
most important mid-term goal is to secure imports of resources
to meet domestic demand in the energy market. Another goal is
to enhance the independence of energy corporations in overseas
markets, to alleviate the fragility and sensitivity of the domestic
energy market. Furthermore, higher levels of independence
limit variations in domestic energy prices, arising from price
fluctuations in international energy markets or regional con-
The objective of this article is to test whether China’s energy
diplomacy displays neo-mercantilist tendencies through the
distribution of overseas investment by Chinese energy corpora-
tions. It uses three criteria, based on variables (types of energy
investment), categorization and evaluation, to distinguish the
types of i nvestment . The first evaluates whether the corporation
acquires oil or gas products; the second measures the corpora-
tion’s level of independence in the host country’s energy mar-
ket; and the third, assesses the contribution made to energy
diplomacy. The order of the goals of energy diplomacy implies
that the main concern for importing countries, apart from
building energy security, lies in the acquisition of oil or gas
products. Consequently, levels of independence and contribu-
tions to energy diplomacy, receive less attention. Therefore,
this study focuses on the corporation’s acquisition of resources
and assigns weights accordingly. Thus, a weight of two or zero
is assigned to corporations, based upon their respective re-
source obtaining capabilities.
The second criterion is to evaluate the integrity of the corpo-
ration’s independence. For energy importing countries, one
objective of energy diplomacy is to enhance the independence
of domestic energy corporations in overseas markets. This in-
dependence is affected by interference from the host country or
state-owned corporations and changes triggered by price varia-
tions in the energy market. Upon securing the right of extrac-
tion, corporations are obliged to share their harvest, thus, the
corporation is influenced by the host country. Conversely, re-
source supply contracts depend strongly on price mechanisms
in the energy markets.
Strictly speaking, these criteria impact differently on levels
of independence. The right of extraction is considered a
long-term deficiency, while disturbance arising from market
price mechanisms is short-term and can often be offset. Hence,
this study assigns the weight of one to completely independent
corporations, .5 for disturbances caused by market mecha-
nisms and zero if disturbances from the host country prevail.
The third criterion for weight assignment is the evaluation of
the corporation’s investment in basic infrastructure and contri-
butions to energy diplomacy. In the energy industry, the con-
struction and maintenance of basic infrastructure and explora-
tion of oil fields requires substantial capital investment (La-
tourette, Bernstein, Hanson, Pernin, Knopman, & Overton,
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 327
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
2003). These are often bargaining chips which third-country
energy corporations use when negotiating with host country
governments or energy corporations. These chips aid the acqui-
sition of the rights of extraction and are often key components
in energy diplomacy. Corporations are assigned weights of 0.5
or zero, depending on their bargaining abilities. These criteria
are summarized in Table 1, along with an overall weight for
each investment category. The significance of this overall
weight is also outlined.
In classifying and managing independent variables, it is nec-
essary to review the hypothesis of this study. The objective is to
test whether China’s energy diplomacy is strongly linked with
neo-mercantilism. The two core concepts are, firstly, that eco-
nomic activities represent national interests and facilitate na-
tional support to industries. The first sub-hypothesis concerns
whether Chinese energy corporations’ investments in overseas
markets are profitable. This question is rather complex and its
evaluation is specific in the energy industry. Starting from 2007,
the Fraser Institute of Canada annually interviewed over 350
executives of trans-national energy corporations. From these
interviews, the Institute presented the investment cost assess-
ments made by trans-national energy corporations to 133 global
The report focused on sets of 16 questions, which included
the fiscal conditions of the host country’s upstream energy
industry, tax system, local natural gas price, the trade-off for
compromising with governments, regular uncertainties, envi-
ronmental regulations, local infrastructure, trade rules, labour
employment regulations, local public infrastructure, quality and
coverage of geological database, labour capability, land issues,
political stability, and the safety of investors and their property
(Angevine & Cameron, 2007).
The Likert Scale was used to distinguish the evaluations of
each interviewee, and group the questions into distinct catego-
ries: encourages investment, facilitates investment decisions,
slightly impedes investment decisions, strongly impedes in-
vestment decisions, and discourages investment (Angevine &
Cameron, 2007). Furthermore, the report proportioned the in-
terviewee evaluations, thus each category was assigned twenty
per cent respectively. For conducting regression analysis, the
results for each question set were simplified into a single score.
In order to present the score of a condition in a certain region, a
weight from one to five was assigned to the five categories.
Since different interviewees were surveyed, this study inte-
grated the total number of annual interviewees to simplify the
results. The results are reduced to a single score (Figure 1):
Finally, though independent variables were derived from
studies between 2007 and 2010, the precision of this study is
unaffected. Overseas investment from Chinese energy corpora-
tions first began in 1993; however, it wasn’t until 2003 that
large scale expansion of overseas markets commenced. Fur-
thermore, a country’s investment environment is not subject to
extensive transient transformation unless political conflict oc-
curs. With these preconditions, the report published in 2007 is
capable of testing the evaluations made by executives of the
energy industry from 2003 to 2006.
China’s Global Energy Investment Distribution
and Geological Deposition
The Middle East
Middle Eastern countries exercise stringent control on their
domestic oil or gas resources (Cordesman & Al-Rodhan, 2006),
and thus are capable of interfering with markets. The energy
Table 1.
Weight of each dependent variable (categories of energy investment).
Investm ent category
obtain oil
of energy
Beneficial for
negotiations WeightInvestm ent category
Right of exploration 0 1 .5 1.5
- Right of investigation,
- Incapable obtaining resources directly
- High levels of independence and ba rgaining power
Right of exploitation 2 0 0 2
- Acquires resources directly
- Shared extraction
- Lowered in d epende nce levels
- No bargaining power
Property right of oil
field 2 1 0 3
- Ensured resource supply
- Vulnerable to market mechanisms
Oil/gas supply 2 .5 0 2.5 - Ensured supply of resourc es
- High levels of indepe nd ence
Basic infrastr ucture 0 1 .5 1.5 - Incapable of securing resources directly
- Increased bargaining power through basic infrastructural
Note: The interaction of the three criteria in each investment category results in an overall weight for each category. Corporation s with the ri ght of invest igation, but inca-
pable of obtaining resources directly, but which have a hi gh level of i ndependence and bargaining ability, have a weight of 1.5. Corporations with the right of extraction are
able to acquir e resources directly, though wh ere the extraction is shared; the independence level is lowered and eliminates the bargaining power. These corp orations are
assigned a weight of two. Moreover, corporations with resource supply contracts ensure a supply of oil or g as; howeve r, they are more vulnerable to energy price markets
and are thus assigned a weight of 2.5. The fourth investment category, the acquisition of the right of the oil field, ensures a supply of resources while at the same time
maintains high levels of independence. Such corporations are assigned with the highest weight of three. Lastly, though importing countries are incapable of obtaining
resource supplies directly through basic infras tructural investment, they hold effective bargaining power through such investments, and thus, a weight of 1.5 is assigned.
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Figure 1.
The equation for integrating independent variables
market in these countries primarily depicts non-discriminating
state-control where granted property rights over oil fields are
refused to foreign energy enterprises. Under this condition,
from 2003 to 2010, Chinese energy enterprises made 74 in-
vestments in the Middle East with 146 rights of oil fields or
construction work (Table 2 and Figure 2), primarily comprised
from property rights over oil fields, extraction, investigation,
and supply of oil or gas.
Only China’s Middle Eastern investments in Qatar, UAE,
and Oman were higher than global averages for the region.
However, the performance of each index and total performance
in Iraq and Iran were substantially below average. Chinese
energy enterprises’ investments in Iraq and Iran comprised 28%
of their total Middle Eastern investment. Additionally, most
Chinese investments were made in Syria, where the economic
performance was below the global average. According to this
distribution scene, the first sub-hypothesis proposed may, par-
tially, be testified.
The number of investments from Chinese energy enterprises
in each country reflected China’s regional difficulties (Table 3).
The majority of investments went to Syria and Iran, which to-
talled 56.7% of total investments. These nations are isolated
internationally for political and human rights issues. Although
the basic energy-related infrastructures in these countries are
insufficient compared with other regional countries, they exer-
cise absolute control over domestic oil fields and are
well-equipped. The investment scheme made in Syria and Iran
by Chinese energy corporations highlighted China’s investment
targets and preferences.
China’s initial investment in Syria involved cooperation be-
tween Chinese energy enterprises and local government and
enterprises. The Gbeibe oil fields exploited joint-investment
from the CNPC, the Syrian Ministry of Oil, and Syria National
Petroleum Corporation. Another investment path was coopera-
tion with foreign investors, as seen by the merger of Al Furat
Production Company’s stakeholders’ right to cooperate with the
CNPC and the India Petroleum Natural Gas Corporation in
2005. However, from 2009, mergers and acquisitions with for-
eign corporations became the principal investment path for
Chinese enterprises. In 2008, the CNPC merged with Canadian
Tanganyika Oil and acquired eight property rights over oil
fields. In 2010, CNPC merged with a subsidiary of Shell in
Syria, and acquired 40 oil fields.
Conversely, the investments from Chinese energy corpora-
tions in Iran emphasized mutual cooperation between govern-
ments, including state-owned corporations. Reduced Western
investment in Iran may also facilitate Chinese enterprises’ co-
operation with host countries. However, a more critical differ-
ence is that Chinese energy corporations’ investments in Iran
principally focused on basic infrastructure. In the North Pars oil
field, investment from the CNPC expedited liquefied natural
gas factories and transportation facilities for liquefied natural
gas. In 2009, the CNPC promised Iran US$6.5 billion in in-
vestment for refining equipment. Hence, it can be suggested
that a mutually beneficial relationship existed between Chinese
energy corporations and the Iranian government. This enabled
Iran to obtain the basic infrastructure needed for its oil refiner-
ies, while at the same time granted China with the rights asso-
ciated with Iranian oil and gas fields.
Central Asia
Trans-national energy enterprises were only able to increase
their energy-related investments in Central Asia after the col-
lapse of the USSR. Cooperation and dialog between Shanghai
and the five countries of former Soviet Central Asia (Kazakh-
stan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan),
and the Shanghai cooperation organization, strengthened mu-
tual political trust between Central Asia and China. Addition-
ally, no competitive relations among oil or gas exporting coun-
tries existed, and therefore facilitated intensive energy-related
cooperation between these countries (Nincic, 2009). Compared
with the Middle East where unfavourable conditions arose due
to host country interference, interference by Central Asian
countries in energy markets proved beneficial to China.
Table 4 and Figure 3 show how, from 2003 to 2010, a total
of 43 investment projects were made in Central Asia by Chi-
nese energy corporations, which included 160 right of oil fields
or construction work. These were principally rights of investi-
gation, extraction, property rights of oil fields, and supply of oil
or gas.
Investing patterns were credited in facilitating Chinese en-
ergy corporations’ acquisition of 160 rights in 43 investment
projects. The main approach for Chinese energy corporations’
regional investments was the establishment of new energy cor-
porations through joint-investment with host country’s enter-
prises and the merger with third-country enterprises. From 2003
to 2010, Chinese energy corporations acquired 39 rights
through seven merger and acquisition projects. Five joint ven-
tures were established, and 84 rights obtained, through coop-
eration with state-owned energy enterprises in Kazakhstan and
Uzbekistan, respectively. The merger and acquisition project
completed by the CNPC, in 2009, is the best example of this
investment pattern. The CNPC and Khazak National Petroleum
and Natural Gas Corporation, co-financed Mangistau Invest-
ments B.V. in the Netherlan d s. M an g is t a u Investments
B.V. purchased all the properties of Mangistau Munai Gas
(MMG) and acquired 15 rights of investigation and extraction
each from the Kalamkas and Zhetybai regions.
The CNPC’s four oil-gas pipe construction projects in Ka-
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 329
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Table 2.
Chinese energy enterprises’ investment in the Middle East between 2003 and 2010.
Right of oil fiel d Basic infrastructure
Country Right of
investigation Right of
extraction Property right
of oil field
supply Refinement of
crude oil Store of
crude oil T ra nsp ort of
crude oil
Qatar 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Iraq 2 6 1 0 0 1 0 10
Iran 4 11 5 6 5 0 0 31
Saudi Arabia 9 1 1 5 6 0 0 22
Azerbaijan 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 4
UAE 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2
Oman 2 1 0 4 0 0 0 7
Kuwait 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 5
Syria 2 0 50 1 1 0 0 54
Yemen 5 4 1 0 0 0 0 10
Total 24 27 63 18 12 1 1 146
Table 3.
Investigation result of Chinese investments in Middle Eastern Nations from Global Energy Investigation Result Report.
Country Finance Tax
regulations Price of
natural gas Price paid for rules
compromised Uncertainties of
rules Environmental
rules Labour
(shown in
Report) 3.862 3.863 3.73 3.641 3.643 3.76 3.781 3.852 3.787
Qatar 4.04 4.06 3.86 4.00 4.11 4.01 3.84 4.16 3.90
Iraq 3.01 3.07 2.97 3.26 2.69 3.81 3.30 3.38 3.47
Iran 2.22 2.56 2.97 3.26 2.69 3.81 3.30 3.38 3.47
Saudi Arabia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Azerbaijan 3.86 3.76 3.47 3.48 3.50 3.85 3.59 3.71 3.70
UAE 3.80 4.05 3.75 3.84 3.85 3.89 3.93 4.15 3.87
Oman 3.81 3.69 3.71 3.73 3.82 3.83 3.74 3.88 3.55
Kuwait 3.16 3.54 3.49 3.42 3.49 3.89 3.36 3.60 3.49
Syria 3.49 3.45 3.38 3.45 3.33 3.89 3.38 3.35 3.30
Yemen 3.55 3.65 3.02 3.52 3.45 3.93 3.48 3.70 3.24
Country Public basic
infrastructure Business
infrastructure Geologic
database Labour capabilit iesLand disputesPolitical
stability Security Total
(shown in
Report) 3.761 3.837 3.992 3.921 3.993 3.889 4.084 61.40
Qatar 4.26 4.25 4.04 3.80 4.16 4.27 4.32 65.08
Iraq 2.71 2.99 3.52 3.31 3.23 2.29 2.51 49.52
Iran 2.99 2.95 3.37 3.37 3.21 2.75 3.29 46.34
Saudi Arabia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Azerbaijan 3.66 3.29 3.45 3.82 3.8 3.43 3.74 58.11
UAE 4.24 4.31 3.99 4.06 4.34 4.37 4.28 64.72
Oman 3.76 3.79 4.04 3.91 4.29 4.13 4.29 61.97
Kuwait 3.75 3.72 3.81 3.78 3.97 3.90 4.05 58.42
Syria 3.29 3.26 3.36 3.62 3.63 3.36 3.59 55.13
Yemen 2.84 3.11 3.46 3.4 3.43 2.81 2.95 53.54
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Table 4.
Chinese energy enterprises’ investment in Central Asia between 2003 and 2010.
Right of oil fiel d Basic infrastructure
Country Right of
investigation Right of
extraction Property right of
oil field
supply Refinement of
crude oil Store of crude
oil T ra nsp ort of
crude oil
Kazakhstan 30 21 25 2 2 0 3 83
Turkmenistan 2 5 1 3 0 0 1 12
Uzbekistan 31 27 5 2 0 0 0 65
Total 63 53 31 7 2 0 4 160
Figure 2.
Chinese energy enterprises’ investment in the Middle East between 2003 and 2010.
Figure 3.
Chinese energy enterprises’ investment in Central Asia between 2003 and 2010.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 331
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
zakhstan and Turkmenistan signalled another important char-
acteristic of China’s regional energy diplomacy. These four
construction projects built three resource pipelines linked to
China through Xinjiang, and connected directly to the west-east
network. The first pipeline connected Atyrau, Western Kazakh-
stan, with Alashan, Xinjiang. The second connected Almaty
with Korla, Xinjiang, and the third connected the Amu River
with Huoerguosi, Xinjiang.
Notably, managers from trans-national energy enterprises
appraised poorly the three Central Asian countries. In a report
covering 2007 to 2010, the economic performance of these
three countries lagged behind the global average. Environ-
mental regulation in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan only slightly
exceeded the global average. The remaining 15 indices fell
below their respective global averages (Table 5). The overall
performance of Turkmenistan and business infrastructures in
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan ranke d among th e lowest globally.
Africa constitutes a major investment destination for many
trans-national energy corporations, due to the incapability of
host countries to refuse foreign corporate capital (African De-
velopment Bank and the African Union, 2009). Table 6 and
Figure 4 show how, from 2003 to 2010, 71 investment projects
were initiated by Chinese energy corporations in 16 African
countries. These led to the acquisition of 165 rights of oil fields
or construction work, of which, 112, or 68.3% of total rights,
were the right of investigati on and extraction.
The investment scheme by Chinese energy corporations in
Africa reflected Africa’s relative development weakness in the
international energy market. Unlike Middle Eastern nations
who have significant control over their oil fields or the three
Central Asian countries, the African energy market was the
closest conceptually to a perfect market. Due to this relative
regional development weakness, Chinese energy corporations’
investments depicted prominent neo-mercantilist concepts,
especially in investment patterns, competition, and cooperation
with European/American energy enterprises.
Firstly, Chinese energy corporations often obtained property
rights to oil fields or supply of oil or gas through investments in
basic energy-related infrastructure. In most cases with Chad as
an exception, China built oil refineries in countries with exten-
sive oil fields or in countries where China imported crude oil.
Sudan, Nigeria, and Algeria contained large oil fields, while
Angola and Niger imported oil from China. Nigeria and Niger
acted as examples of “construction work for oil and gas”. The
CNPC purchased priority development rights in the OPL721,
732, 281, and 471 regions of Nigeria in May, 2006. Subse-
quently, the Chinese government promised to buy the Kaduna
oil refinery in Nigeria, for US $2 billion. Furthermore, the
CNPC’s construction work on oil refineries in Niger in No-
vember, 2008, propagated a three-year contract with the right of
extraction in the Agedem region.
Secondly, Western energy enterprises had large investments
in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria and Gabon. Until 2008,
China only obtained (Angevine & Cameron, 2007) rights in
these respective countries. Following the global financial crisis,
however, China obtained eight rights of investigation and 17
rights associated with nine oil fields, through the merger and
acquisition of Addax Petroleum, in 2009.
Table 7 shows that the economic evaluations of China’s in-
vestments in Africa were lower than the global average. The
political stability and security indexes of Niger, Algeria, Nige-
ria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Chad were far
below the average. The economic performance of Nigeria, the
recipient of most Chinese investments, ranked lowest.
Why Mercantilism?
Testing Sub-Hypothesis #1
This study utilized information from Tables 2 to 6 and con-
ducted a Pearson Correlation Analysis; the results are shown in
Table 5.
Investigation result of Chi n es e in v es tments in Centra l A sian Nations from Global Energy Investigation Result Report.
Country Finance Tax
regulations Price of
natural gas
Price paid fo r
comp ro mi se d
Uncertainties of
rules Environmental
rules Local production
facilities Trade rulesLabour
(shown in
Report) 3.86 3.86 3.73 3.64 3.64 3.76 3.78 3.85 3.79
Kazakhstan 3.39 3.45 3.12 3.08 2.85 3.72 3.47 3.29 3.32
Turkmenistan 2.99 2.95 3.20 2.81 2.79 3.51 3.22 3.22 3.17
Uzbekistan 3.41 3.48 3.39 3.11 2.80 3.96 3.48 3.48 3.30
Country Public basic
infrastructure Business
infrastructure Geologic
database Labour
capabilities Land disputesPolitical stabilitySecurity Total
(shown in
Report) 3.76 3.84 3.99 3.92 3.99 3.89 4.08 61.40
Turkmenistan 3.12 2.78 3.20 3.57 3.81 3.22 3.06 52.45
Kazakhstan 2.99 3.08 3.33 3.68 3.86 3.45 3.20 51.46
Uzbekistan 3.39 2.95 3.18 3.72 3.85 3.37 3.42 54.28
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Table 6.
Chinese energy enterprises’ investment in Africa between 2003 and 2010.
Right of oil fiel d Basic infrastructure
Country Right of
investigation Right of
extraction Property right
of oil field
supply Refinement of
crude oil Store of crude
oil T ra nspo rt of
crude oil
Sudan 1 1 5 0 0 0 2 9
Algeria 3 3 2 1 3 1 0 13
Libya 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 4
Nigeria 11 12 4 1 0 0 0 28
Gabon 8 3 6 1 0 0 0 18
Tunisia 14 14 1 0 0 0 0 29
Mauritania 6 4 1 1 0 0 0 12
Morocco 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Kenya 6 0 0 0 0 0 4 10
Angola 4 1 5 0 1 0 0 11
Somalia 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Niger 2 2 0 0 2 0 2 8
Equatoria l Guinea 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Cameroon 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Chad 3 3 3 0 2 0 1 12
Republic of C ongo 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Total 68 44 27 5 8 1 11 164
Figure 4.
Chinese energy enterprises’ investment in Africa between 2003 and 2010.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 333
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Table 7.
Investigation result of Chinese investments in African Nations from Global Energy Investigation Result Report.
Country Finance
regulations Price of
natural gas
Price paid fo r
Uncertaintie s of
rules Environmental
rules Labour
Average (shown in
Report) 3.86 3.86 3.73 3.64 3.64 3.76 3.78 3.85 3.79
Gabon 3.78 3.76 3.40 3.55 3.50 3.80 3.70 3.70 3.53
Niger 3.39 3.55 3.65 3.33 3.07 3.70 3.41 3.07 3.26
Angola 3.78 3.69 3.23 3.55 3.60 4.07 3.46 3.92 3.58
Libya 3.10 3.25 3.59 3.27 3.37 3.99 3.35 3.51 3.47
Equatorial Guinea 3.32 3.55 3.49 3.31 3.34 3.77 3.61 3.67 3.50
Nigeria 3.18 3.14 3.15 3.13 2.98 3.65 3.04 3.45 2.98
Kenya N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Algeria 2.92 3.2 3.36 3.28 3.13 3.96 3.54 3.51 3.58
Chad 3.48 3.54 3.11 3.35 3.36 4.10 3.48 3.28 3.89
Tunisia 3.62 3.55 3.79 3.57 3.42 3.78 3.25 3.41 3.53
Mauritania N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Republic of Congo 3.51 3.49 3.29 3.44 3.55 3.95 3.32 3.45 3.49
Somalia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Cameroon 3.84 3.42 3.22 3.69 3.45 3.93 3.93 3.83 3.68
Morocco 4.00 3.89 3.49 3.85 4.03 4.02 3.85 3.58 3.85
Sudan 3.10 3.18 3.38 3.15 2.98 3.90 3.31 3.33 3.62
Country Public basic
infrastructure Business
infrastructure Geologic
database Labour
capabilities Land disputes Political
stability Security Total
Average(shown in
Report) 3.76 3.84 3.99 3.92 3.99 3.89 4.08 61.40
Gabon 3.15 3.39 3.52 3.59 3.66 3.44 3.61 57.08
Niger 2.46 2.65 3.02 2.89 2.89 2.76 3.08 50.18
Angola 3.00 3.27 3.67 3.68 3.93 3.31 3.59 57.33
Libya 3.13 3.12 3.61 3.99 4.00 3.58 3.81 56.14
Equatorial Guinea 2.97 3.15 3.44 3.28 3.43 3.07 3.36 54.26
Nigeria 2.61 3.14 3.48 3.19 2.88 2.33 2.42 48.75
Kenya N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Algeria 3.43 3.49 3.66 3.74 3.87 2.99 3.08 54.74
Chad 2.47 2.50 3.38 3.54 2.99 2.28 2.40 51.15
Tunisia 3.83 3.83 3.71 3.75 4.28 3.53 3.82 58.67
Mauritania N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Republic of Congo 2.86 3.05 3.19 3.60 3.53 3.07 3.11 53.90
Somalia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Cameroon 3.13 3.41 3.55 3.59 3.66 3.68 3.57 57.58
Morocco 3.46 3.56 3.75 3.92 3.94 3.97 4.20 61.36
Sudan 2.51 3.00 3.06 2.93 2.89 2.15 2.50 48.99
Table 8. Related data for Somalia, Kenya, Mauritania, and
Saudi Arabia were excluded because such information was not
provided in the secondary resources of this study. When as-
sessing the connection between global distribution and the host
country’s average economic evaluation, it became obvious that
the host country’s investment environment was not the main
variable which Chinese energy enterprises interpreted when
making overseas investment decisions. Moreover, a negative
correlation existed between the host country’s investment en-
vironment and the basic infrastructure construction contract
signed by China globally.
Table 8 shows a negative correlation between Chinese en-
ergy corporations’ overseas investment and global energy en-
terprise’s executive evaluation over the past five years. There-
fore, the first sub-hypothesis revealed that Chinese energy cor-
porations’ overseas investments were not dependent on the
economic logic of the enterprise level, investment costs or prof-
Such negative correlations partially fell between 2007 and
2010 (Table 9), though the scale of this decline was indistinct
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
and might be attributed to the global financial crisis. When
Western enterprises were affected by the crisis, Chinese energy
enterprises’ investments in basic infrastructure in countries with
poor economic performance dropped. The negative correlation
between rights of oil fields and economic evaluation similarly
declined. It was likely that the crisis weakened Western energy
enterprises, and contributed to this trend. However, when com-
paring investment distributions from 2003 onwards, and from
2007 onwards, with the host country’s economic evaluation,
both distributions reflected that economic components of the
enterprise were not significant factors that Chinese energy cor-
porations considered when making overseas investment deci-
Testing Sub-Hypothesis #2
According to the study by Downs, many participants agreed
on outreaching when overseas investment issues were raised
when negotiating energy security policies. However, due to low
commercial benefits, Chinese energy corporations became
strongly opposed to building foreign oil pipelines (Downs,
2004). From the overseas investments of Chinese energy cor-
porations, only 16 oil or gas foreign pipelines were built. Of
these, the most important investment which best reflected the
second sub-hypothesis in this study, was located in Central
A total of four pipelines were built in Central Asia by Chinese
energy corporations, and were largely related to China’s energy
security policy of “west gas-transport east”. As mentioned in
China’s “Ten One Five Planning”, it was vitally important to
expand domestic and overseas oil or gas resource investigations
and complete the construction of national pipeline networks.
The objective was to complete transportation channels such that
oil produced in the west could be transported east, oil produced
in the north could be transported south, and gas produced in the
west could be transported east (Xinhua, 2006). The CNPC co-
operated with Kazakhstan in building crude oil pipelines con-
necting Atasu and Atyrau, Kazakhstan with Alashan, Xinjiang.
Later, from 2006, construction work began on oil pipelines
connecting Almaty, Kazakhstan with Korla, Xinjiang.
Of these two pipelines, the first pipeline (Atasu-Atyrau-
Alashan) connected with the Caspian Pipeline Consortium
(CPC) network. Furthermore, the two pipelines stretched west-
ward into Azerbaijan. To the north, the pipelines connected
with far eastern oil or gas networks in Russia; and to the south-
east, the pipelines connected to oil or gas fields in South/North
Pars, Iran; to the southwest, the pipelines connected to oil or
gas networks in the Persian Gulf (Jiang & Sinton, 2011).
Secondly, regardless of economic or security logic, for en-
ergy net importing nations, in general, the distance between the
energy production and consumption sites is proportional to the
risk presented in transportation. The economic and security
costs increase when more resources are devoted to security
when negotiating with the host country. If the nation’s energy
security strategy was a motivation for Chinese energy corpora-
tion’s overseas investments decisions, then, the overseas in-
vestment distribution will depict a negative correlation with
transport distance.
By accounting for China’s heavy reliance on oil and gas im-
ports, this study focuses on the geographic centre of each coun-
try when measuring the linear distance between “China” (cen-
tred on Gansu at 35˚N, 105˚E) and the host country. Table 10
shows the distance between the geographic centre of China
and the 29 countries where Chinese energy corporations in-
vested overseas. Figure 5 visualizes the ratio of investments
made to geographic distance from China, for recipient coun-
Table 8.
Correlation between Ch i n ese energy industries ’ global investments and host country’s economic apprai sal between 2003 and 2010.
Total weight of
Right of
investigation Right of
extraction Property right
of oil field Oil/gas supply Basic infrastruc t u r e
Overall economic appraisal –.305 –.207 –.353 –.147 –.205 –.534 **
Financial sy st em –.309 –.164 –.384 –.112 –.483* –.677**
Taxation system –.415* –.272 –.438* –.207 –.472* –.625**
Local price for natura l gas –.22 1 –.128 –.225 –.133 –.184 –.270
Price paid for rules
compromised –.486* –.393 –.562** –.201 –.535** –.646**
Uncertainties of rules –.477* –.424* –.597** –.190 –.349 –.533**
Environme ntal rules –.397* –.290 –.442* –.171 –.599** –.446*
Local prod u ction needs –.416* –.274 –.471* –.218 –.371 –.460*
Trade rules –.386 –.201 –.386 –.211 –.483* –.663**
Labour employment rules –.536** –.424* –.547** –.301 –.482* –.300
Local public basic
infrastructure –.086 –.058 –.072 –.055 .106 –.366
Business infra str uc t ure –.212 –.171 –.22 1 –.106 –.071 –.412*
Quality of geologic
database –.320 –.259 –.278 –.223 .020 –.344
Labour ca pabilities –.011 .044 –.058 .002 .088 –.265
Land dispute s –.013 .086 –.013 –.033 .099 –.319
Political stability –. 076 –.027 – .152 –.017 .088 –.357
Security –.138 –.129 –.221 –.040 .113 –.352
Note: Made by author; a single *mark means correlation does exist; a double ** mark means there is a high correlation.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 335
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Table 9.
Correlation between C h i n e s e energy industries’ global investments and host country ’s economic appraisal between 2007 and 2010.
Total weight of energy
investments Right of
investigation Right of
extraction Property rights of oil
field Oil/gas
supply Basic infrastructure
Overall economic appraisal –.217 –.239 –.393 –.048 –.108 –.415
Financial system –.244 –.225 –.495* –.020 –.341 –.561*
Taxation system –.321 –.352 –.559* –.078 –.328 –.400
Local price for natura l gas –.156 –.225 –.355 –.016 –.100 –.102
Price paid for rules compromised –.333 –.407 –.595** –.052 –.506* –.467
Uncertainties of rules –.274 –.337 –.509* –.050 –.336 –.296
Environmental rules –.309 –.428 –.593** –.022 –.546* –.409
Local production needs –.363 –.253 –.452 –.174 –.286 –.431
Trade rules –.364 –.189 –.443 –.160 –.402 –.703**
Labour employment rule s –.398 –.308 –.354 –.240 –.374 –.202
Local public basic infrastructure –.077 –.207 –.239 –.0 20 .210 –.256
Business infra str uc t ure –.189 –.202 –.295 –.05 5 –.111 –.358
Quality of geologic database –.288 –.207 –.253 –.184 –.090 –.282
Labour ca pabilities .048 .044 –.043 .058 .222 –.269
Land disputes –.022 .006 –.052 –.007 .280 –.382
Political stability –.002 –.024 –.129 .040 .225 –.278
Security –.019 –.172 –.236 .071 .208 –.164
Note: Made by author; a single *mark means correlation does exist; a double ** mark means there is a high correlation.
Table 10.
Distance between China’s geographic centre and Chinese energy invested nations’ geographic centre.
Country Geographic centre
Distance to China’ s
geographic centre Nation Geographic centre
Distance to China’s
geographic centre
Kazakhstan 48˚00'N, 68˚00'E 3365.3539 Kenya 1˚00'N, 38˚00'E 7873.5629
Uzbekistan 41˚00'N, 64˚00'E 3623.974 Cameroon 6˚00'N, 12˚00'E 9908.2869
Turkmenistan 40˚00'N, 60˚00'E 3970.6215 Libya 25˚00'N, 17˚00'E 8286.1855
Iran 32˚00'N, 53˚00'E 4784.0869 Tunisia 34˚00'N, 9˚00'E 8408.7468
Oman 21˚00'N, 57˚00'E 4917.0762 Chad 15˚00'N, 19˚00'E 8710.7184
Azerbaijan 40˚30'N, 47˚30'E 5030.0124 Angola 12˚30'N, 18˚30'E 8940.4360
UAE 24˚00'N, 54˚00'E 5035.2235 Algeria 28˚00'N, 3˚00'E 9258.5833
Qatar 25˚30'N, 51˚15'E 5232.0708 Morocco 32˚00'N, 5˚00'W 9595.2247
Iraq 33˚00'N, 44˚00'E 5543.7272 Niger 16˚00'N, 8˚00'E 9622.1817
Kuwait 29˚30'N, 45˚45'E 5566.4982 Nigeria 10˚00'N, 8˚00'E 10010.5420
Saudi Arabia 2 5˚00'N, 45˚00'E 5805.2351 Republic of C ongo 1˚00'S, 15˚00'E 10082.6020
Syria 35˚00'N, 38˚00'E 5984.4918 Gabon 1˚00'S, 11˚45'E 10278.4390
Yemen 15˚00'N, 48˚00'E 6077.1710 Equatorial Guinea 2˚00'N, 10˚00'E 10346.3060
Somalia 10˚00'N, 49˚00'E 6298.9660 Mauritania 20˚00'N , 12˚00'W 11000.297
Sudan 15˚00'N, 30˚00'E 7716.0383
Note: Ratio of investment ag ainst distance from China.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 337
Figure 5.
Visualisation of ratio of inv e s t ments made to geographic distance from China, for global recipients o f Chinese energy enterprises’.
Table 11 analyzed the above data and the right of investiga-
tion, extraction, oil fields, and supply of oil or gas acquired by
Chinese energy corporations overseas. The four investment
categories depict inverse relations with distance for supply of
oil or gas.
Finally, from 2003 to 2010, China reaffirmed its energy se-
curity policy of outreach and diversification, and emphasized
its “west gas-transport east” policy and the strategy mentioned
in the “Ten One Five Planning”:
“Expand oil and natural gas resource investigations ··· call
for equalized cooperation; mutual beneficial scenarios, expand
overseas cooperative development in oil or gas resources ··· ac-
celerate construction of oil or gas pipeline networks and related
infrastructure, and gradually complete national pipeline net-
works; constructing west oil-transport east, north oil-transport
south networks; construct secondary west-east oil pipelines, and
ground transportation importing oil or gas pipelines when nec-
essary” (Xinhua, 2006).
This official Chinese government document highlights that
China’s energy security policy is built with Xinjiang as the
focus. This connection point was built to link overseas oil or
gas supplies with domestic consumers. A national oil or gas
pipeline network serves as the basis for domestic consumption
which is linked to oil pipelines connected with overseas oil
production. By 2007, the CNPC had signed large scale con-
tracts for natural gas with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Fur-
thermore, China had an agreement with Turkmenistan con-
cerning supplies of oil or gas over the next thirty years.
In cross-analyzing these three types of evidence, it is plausi-
ble that the negative correlation between the oil or gas supply
and distance may be accredited to meeting China’s domestic
energy security policy, and explains the oil and gas supply con-
tracts signed with nearby countries.
Testing Sub-Hypothesis #3
The Effects of International Energy Market Structure on
Chinese Energy Corporations Investment Strategy Tables 3, 5,
and 7 show that, of all the Chinese energy corporations’ in-
vestments in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa from
2007 to 2010, only Qatar (65.08), UAE (64.72), Oman (61.79),
Morocco (61.29), and Tunisia (59.34) had averages that ex-
ceeded the average of all countries in the same period (exclud-
ing Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia). The phenomenon sig-
nalled that economic profits or cost consideration was not in-
fluential in overseas investment decisions. However, it is be-
lieved that the recent development of Chinese energy corpora-
tions in the international energy market might have also con-
tributed to such phenomenon.
While China established its energy security policy through
outreach and diversification (Table 12 and Figure 6), in 2004,
the ratio of global oil exports to China was rather low. This
distribution suggested that, Chinese energy corporations faced
difficulties in the international energy market, during the initial
stages of outreaching.
If the third sub-hypothesis is affirmable, and associated with
mercantilism, then the current government should prioritize
aiding energy corporations through outreach. For the govern-
ment, it is more beneficial to invest in countries with sound,
rather than weak, mutual interactions. Furthermore, government
aid contributes to diplomacy and also facilitates overseas in-
vestments by energy corporations. Moreover, since Western
enterprises invested relatively less in these countries, then entry
barriers for Chinese enterprises are reduced.
The relationship between these oil producing countries and
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Table 11.
Correlation between distance and Chinese foreign investment categories.
Right of investigation Right of extraction Property right of oil field Oil/gas supply Total
Distance to China’ s
geographic centre –.274 –.362 –.243 –.474* –.395*
Source of Data: Made by author acco rding to data listed in Tables 2-7; a single * mark means correlation does ex ist; a double ** mark means there is a high correlation.
Table 12.
Oil export states’ export destination and quantity in 2004 (in ten million barrels).
Destination United States Canada Mexico Central/South AmericaEurope
Former Soviet
Union Australia/Asian
Total amount
exported to China .7 0 0 4.1 2.6 18 2.2
Amount of gl o bal
export 47.6 106.2 106.2 159.3 97.4 318.9 11
Amount exported to
(in percentage) 1.47% 0% 0% 2.57% 2.67% 5.64% 20%
Others in
Asia Pacific Region North Africa East/South
Africa Middle East Japan West Africa Other Re gions
Total amount
exported to China 40 2.1 5.8 62.8 2.1 27.5 .5
Amount of gl o bal
Export 117.1 144.5 12.2 975.2 3.8 201.9 63.7
Amount exported to
(percentage wise) 34.16% 1.45% 47.54% 6.44% 55.26% 13.62% .785%
Figure 6.
Percentage total exports from oil exporting states to China, in 2004.
China roughly subdivides into two categories: first, positive
interaction between China and the oil producing country; the
countries of Central Asia have solid records of cooperation with
China due to the Shanghai five countries and Shanghai coop-
erative organizations (Oresman, 2007; Fravel, 2005; Gill, 2007;
Sutter, 2008). China established close military ties with Iran
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
(Garver, 2006; By man, 2001; Gill, 2007) while at the same time
fostered solid friendships with Sudan, Algeria, Libya, and Syria
during the Cold War (Taylor, 2004; Snow, 1995; Tull, 2006).
Another category characterized by long-term national inter-
nal conflicts and where Western energy corporations have
largely avoided, includes countries like Angola and Somalia.
Table 13 shows that each type of investment project made by
Chinese energy corporations in these countries amounted to
more than half of the total investments in Central Asia, the
Middle East, and Africa. The right of oil fields, the most critical
investment, accounted for 81% of total investment in these
regions. Furthermore, China acquired far more right of oil
fields in these countries than the remaining 19 countries. This
highlighted how overseas investment by Chinese energy cor-
porations was affected by national security and political con-
Secondly, a positive correlation existed between Chinese en-
ergy corporations’ investment in basic regional infrastructure
and the number of rights acquired (Table 14). This correlation
is particularly notable in the supply of oil or gas in the Middle
East and the right of oil fields in Central Asia. This distribution
reflected China’s relative weaknesses in the international mar-
ket that necessitated investment in basic infrastructure in order
to gain certain energy rights. Of all the rights, including the
rights of investigation, extraction, oil fields, and the supply of
oil or gas, the rights of oil fields granted the highest level of
independence. Hence, in Central Asia where fewer investments
were from Western enterprises, and where host countries were
more pro-China, the ratio for exchanging rights of oil fields
with basic infrastructure investment was the highest. Con-
versely, in the Middle East where the host countries held abso-
lute control over the rights of oil fields, contracts on supply of
oil or gas were more common.
In May 2006, the CNPC purchased the rights of investigation
and priority development from four regions in Nigeria (OPL721,
732, 281, and 471). Following this, China promised to purchase
the Kaduna oil refinery in Nigeria for US$2 billion. In Novem-
ber 2008, the CNPC contracted the construction of oil refineries
in Niger, which enabled China to obtain a three-year term of
rights of extraction in the Agedem region. Furthermore, the
Chinese government promised Sudan and Algeria investments
for constructing and expanding oil refineries while simultane-
ously purchasing oil fields from these host countries.
The same phenomenon occurred in the oil field investment
project between CNOOC and North Pars, Iran. CNOOC an-
nounced its resolution to build oil refineries and liquefied natu-
ral gas transportation facilities in Iran. Once the investment
project in South Pars was settled, the CNPC announced its US
$1.8 billion investment for constructing a liquefied natural gas
factory. Similar acts in Central Asia by China were seen to be
more evident and diversified, in that besides constructing oil
refineries, China signed a contract with Kazakhstan after the
global financial crisis, stating that Kazakhstan agreed to the
CNPC’s purchase of Mangistau Munai Gas, in 2009. Addition-
ally, such acts were seen through energy cooperation between
China and Russia, Brazil, and Venezuela.
Testing Sub-Hypothesis #4
Table 15 and Figure 7 suggest that the main investing pat-
tern for overseas investment of Chinese energy corporations
was through the merger and acquisition of foreign enterprises.
Table 13.
Chinese oil/gas investment in closely interacted nations.
Right of oil fiel d Basic infrastructure
Country Right of
investigation Right o f
extraction Property right of
oil field
supply Refinement of
crude oil Store of crude
oil T ra nspo rt of
crude oil
Iran 4 11 5 6 5 0 0 31
Syria 2 0 50 1 1 0 0 54
Kazakhstan 30 21 25 2 2 0 3 83
Turkmenistan 2 5 1 3 0 0 1 12
Uzbekistan 31 27 5 2 0 0 0 65
Sudan 1 1 5 0 0 0 2 9
Algeria 3 3 2 1 3 1 0 13
Libya 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 4
Angola 4 1 5 0 1 0 0 11
Somalia 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 79 69 98 16 12 1 8 283
Number of total
overseas investments 155 124 121 30 22 2 16 470
Percentage of overseas
investmen ts accounted for 50.97% 55.65% 80.99% 53.33%54.55% 50% 50% 60.21%
Source of Data: Made by author according to data listed in Tables 2-7.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 339
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Table 14.
Correlation between Chinese-built basic energy infrastructures and energy rights gained.
Middle East, Central Asia and Africa
Total weight of energy
investments Right of investigation Right of extraction Property right of oil field Oil/gas supply
Basic infrast ructures .333 .159 .211 .213 .353
Middle East
Total weight of energy
investments Right of investigation Right of extraction Property right of oil field Oil/gas supply
Basic infrast ructures .304 –.091 .395 .102 .718*
Central Asia
Total weight of energy
investments Right of investigation Right of extraction Property right of oil field Oil/gas supply
Basic infra st ructures .643 .298 .066 .941* –.327
Total weight of energy
investments Right of investigation Right of extraction Property right of oil field Oil/gas supply
Basic infra s tructures –.013 –.136 –.182 .032 –.106
Source of Data: Made by author according to data listed in Tables 2-7.
Table 15.
Rights gained by Chinese energy enterprises through merger and acqui s ition within overall rights gained.
Right of oil fiel d Basic infrastructure
Right of
investigation Right of
extraction Property right
of oil field
supply Refinement
of crude oilStore of
crude oil T ransp ort of
crude oil
Amount 57 35 92 0 1 0 0 155
Percentage (%) 36.7 7 28.23 76.03 .00 4.55 .00 .00 39.36
Figure 7.
Rights gained by Chinese energy enterprises, throug h mergers and acquisitions, displaying overall rights gained.
In mergers and acquisitions, enterprises had greater independ-
ence and profit-to-loss ratios than through negotiations with the
host country led by the government. From 2003 to 2010,
76.03% of the total rights of oil fields acquired by Chinese
energy corporations were gained through mergers and acquisi-
tions. Overseas investment through trans-national mergers and
acquisitions and through merging Western energy corporations
compensated for deficient extraction technologies. Such in-
vestments helped energy corporations obtain new technology
and also to avoid condition exchange with host countries. In
this way, resource allocation and global deployment became
more efficient and effective.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Table 16 presents the change in overseas investment quan-
tity by Chinese energy corporations over the years, and the
rights acquired through mergers and acquisitions. Except for
the large decline of overseas mergers and acquisitions around
2007, mergers and acquisitions were seen as the main invest-
ment pattern for overseas investment by Chinese energy corpo-
rations. This trend became increasingly evident after 2008.
From 2003 to 2006, the percentage of mergers and acquisi-
tions was 27.91; however, from 2008 to 2010, this increased to
57.36%. This change signalled the changing relationship be-
tween the Chinese government and the enterprises in China’s
energy diplomacy. Governmental influence in enterprises is
refocusing on broader objectives that are set by the government
while enterprises have complete control over investment deci-
Literature studying the relationships between China’s energy
SOEs and government concede that the Chinese government
does not dominate the SOEs; on the contrary, since SOEs have
maximized annual profits, the executives have greater influence
over the government than before (Downs, 2009; Liou, 2009).
According to such literature, the observations and inferences
mentioned above do not necessarily mean that Chinese energy
corporations lack any government control. They imply that
once energy security needs were met, investment costs and
profits should then be considered in economic activities.
China’s investment in Central Asia, from 2006 to 2010, estab-
lishing channels of “west gas-transport east” was the main mis-
sion for Chinese energy enterprises. Furthermore, the agree-
ment between the CNPC and Turkmenistan, signed in 2007,
ensured that one billion cubic metres of natural gas will annu-
ally pass through the Central Asia gas pipeline built by the
CNPC, until 2038. This amount increased to 1.3 billion cubic
metres annually in 2008. Upon establishing the annual amount
of piped natural gas, the CNPC purchased Mangistau Munai
Gas and acquired 15 rights of extraction and investigation on
oil fields in Kazakhstan.
In summary, mergers and acquisitions of trans-national en-
terprises became the main approach for overseas investment by
Chinese energy corporations. In contrast to the initial stages of
outreach which necessitated government influence, Chinese
energy corporations are growing stronger internationally,
thereby transforming the relationship between Chinese energy
corporations and the government. While the government influ-
ences enterprises’ investment strategy through energy security
policies, enterprises now adjust investment strategies while
balancing the government’s will and investment costs.
Conclusion: Implications of Chinese Energy
Diplomacy Policy on Neo-Mercantilism
According to the empirical data provided, it is necessary for
the Chinese government to guide and aid Chinese energy cor-
porations in fulfilling the policy of outreach. With the precondi-
tion of C hi na ’ s poli tic a l sy st e m and its energy corporations’ lagged
development in the international market, mercantilism inevitably
became the main approach of Chinese energy diplomacy.
Table 16.
Rights and benefits gained by Chinese energy enterprises through mergers and acquisitions b etween 2003 and 2010.
Year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total
Overall investment cases 54 61 97 46 15 28 108 61 470
Azerbaijan 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Tunisia 24 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 28
Kazakhstan 3 8 20 0 0 2 32 7 42
Iran 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Sudan 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Gabon 0 0 1 0 0 0 10 0 11
Mauritania 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
Syria 0 0 1 0 0 8 0 40 49
Nigeria 0 0 0 2 0 0 7 0 9
UAE 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Iraq 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 4
Niger 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Angola 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Chad 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Cameroon 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2
Total 29 16 24 3 0 10 26 47 155
Rights/benefits gain ed in % 53.70 26.23 24.74 6.52 .00 35.71 51.85 77.05 39.36
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 341
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
However, the government and enterprises view overseas en-
ergy investments differently. The government places greater
concern on whether such investment decisions fulfil energy
security policies, whereas, enterprises focus on profitability.
With Chinese energy corporations’ increasing international
development and the recovery of Western enterprises following
the global financial crisis, the investment strategies of Chinese
energy corporations are transforming. Though these strategies
for overseas investment are still based on governmental energy
security policies, Chinese energy corporations are capable of
pioneering numerous key factors and hence achieving effi-
ciency. One key adjustment is to gradually decrease negotia-
tions between the host and Chinese government. Instead, Chi-
nese energy corporations are expanding overseas investment
through mergers and acquisitions.
In implementing such energy security policies, upon meeting
partial demands outlined in the policy, Chinese energy corpora-
tions adopt more efficient ways to expand overseas investments.
Based on the government’s energy security policy, Chinese
energy corporations seek more efficient mergers and acquisi-
tions thereby transforming energy diplomacy from state-based
to economy-based. Moreover, the implementation of such ac-
tions moves initiatives from the government to enterprises.
Enterprises no longer need to depend on negotiations between
governments; they may negotiate directly with the host gov-
ernment, state-owned enterprise, or Western enterprises. These
changes allow Chinese energy diplomacy to attain higher effi-
ciency and more importantly, enrich the connotations embed-
ded within mercantilism.
Mercantilism emphasized the role of the nation, while liber-
alism believes that nations play a minimal role. Hence, the case
with Chinese energy corporations seems to challenge both
mercantilism and liberalism. According to the empirical re-
search on Chinese energy diplomacy and the overseas invest-
ment of Chinese energy corporations, it is possible for mercan-
tilism and liberalism to pre-conditionally co-exist. The precon-
dition holds that enterprises require a degree of independence in
strategy mapping, while fulfilling governmental policy, and that
investment decisions should be based on economic evaluations.
However, despite considering that prices in the energy mar-
ket are not determined by the supply-demand curve, the energy
market is monopolized by trans-national corporations and in-
ternational organizations. The phenomenon may be the result of
government considerations, since direct mergers and acquisi-
tions of trans-national corporations can gain rights associated
with oil fields, and also enhance the nation’s status internation-
ally. Furthermore, with this enhanced status, the government
can take greater control in agenda setting. In order to test this
hypothesis, a more complete and holistic picture of the struc-
tural change in international energy markets is needed, along
with more interviews analyzing the will of the Chinese gov-
ernment. These issues may be the focus of future studies and
African Development Bank & the African Union (2009). Oil and gas in
Africa (pp. 80-81) . New York: O xfo r d University Press.
Angevine, G. & Cameron, B. (2007). Fraser institute global petroleum
survey (pp. 9-11). Toronto: Fraser Institute Press.
Blair, D. (2007). Why China is trying to colonize Africa? The Tele-
graph, 31 August.
Bohning, W. R. (1979). International migration and the international
economic order. Journal of International Affairs, 33, p. 188.
Brander, J. (1995a). Strategic trade policy, NBER working papers, No.
5020 (pp. 65-66). Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Re-
Brander, J. A. (1995b). Strategic trade policy. In G. Grossman, & K.
Rogoff (Eds.), Handbook of International Economics, Vol. III (p.
1397). New York: Nort h Holland Press.
Buzan, B., & Little, R. (2000). International systems in world history:
Remaking the study of international relations (pp. 293-294). New
York: Oxford University Press.
Byman, D., Chubin, S., Ehteshami, A., & Green, J. (2001) Iran’s secu-
rity in the post-revolutionary era (pp. 62-64). Santa Monica, CA:
Rand Corporation P ress.
Cordesman, A. H., & Al-Rodhan, K. R. (2006). The changing dynamic
of energy in Middle East (p. 168). Washington DC: Center for Inter-
national Strategies and Studies Press.
Dougherty, J. E., & Pfaltzgraff, R. L. (2002). Contending theories of
international relations: A comprehensive survey (p. 428). New York:
Longman press.
Downs, E. S. (2004). The Chinese energy security debate. The China
Quarterly, 177, 37. doi:10.1017/S0305741004000037
Downs, E. S. (2009). Business interest groups in Chinese politics: The
case of the oil companies. In C. Li (Ed.), China’s changing political
landscape: Prospects for democracy (pp. 121-141). Washington DC:
The Brookings Institution Press.
Fravel, M. T. (2005). Regime insecurity and international coop eration:
Explaining China’s compromises in territorial disputes. International
Security, 30, 80. doi:10.1162/016228805775124534
Garver, J. (2006). China and Iran: Ancient partners in a post-imperial
world (pp. 95-128). Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.
Gill, B. (2007). Rising star: Chin a ’s new security diplomacy (pp. 37-52,
165). Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Gilpin, R. (1987). The political economy of international relations (pp.
32-37, 180). P rinceton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Goldstein, J. S. (2003). International relations (p. 306). New York:
Held, D., Mcgrew, A., Goldblatt, D., & Perraton, J. (1999) Global
transformations: Politics, economic and culture (p. 183). London:
Blackwell Publisher Ltd.
Jiang, J., & Sinton, J. (2011) Overseas investment by Chinese national
oil companies: Assessing the drivers and impacts (pp. 17-20). Paris:
International Energy Agency.
Krugman, P. R. (1986). Introduction: New thinking about trade policy.
In P. R. Krugman (Ed.), Strategic trade policy and the new interna-
tional economics (p. 12). Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Institute
of Technology Press.
Krugman, P. R. (1994). Peddling prosperity: Economic sense and non-
sense in the age of diminished expectations (p. 247). New York:
W.W. Norton.
Lairson, T. D., & Skidmore, D. (2002). International political economy:
The struggle for power and wealth (p. 12). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Publishing Press.
Latourrette, T., Bernstein, M., Hanson, M., Pernin, C., Knopman, D., &
Overton, A. (2003) Assessing natural gas and oil resources: An ex-
ample of a new approach in the Greater Green River Basin (pp.
23-26). Santa Monica, CA : Ra n d C o op e ration Press.
Li, D. (2003). The Strategy of energy security: Going out forever. Out-
look Weekly, 34, 38-40.
Liou, C.-S. (2009). Bureaucratic Politics and Overseas Investment by
state-owned oil companies: Illusory champions. Asian Survey, 49, 4,
670-690. doi:10.1525/as.2009.49.4.670
Markusen, J. R., Melvin, J. R., Kaempfer, W. M., & Maskus, K. E.
(1995). International trade: Theory and evidence (p. 374). New York:
Mcdermott, J. (1999). Mercantilism and modern growth. Journal of
Economic Growth, 4, 56. doi:10.1023/A:1009878625417
Nincic, D. J. (2009) Troubled waters: Energy security as maritime
security. In G. Luft, & A. Korin (Eds.), Energy security challenges
for the 21st century: A reference handbook (p. 98). Santa Barbara,
CA: Greenwood Publishing Group Press.
Oresman, M. (2007) Repaving the silk road: China’s emergence in
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
H.-C. YEH, C.-W. YU
Central Asia. In J. Eisenman, et al. (Eds.), China and the developing
world: Beijing’s strategy for the twenty-first century (pp. 60-83).
New York: M.E. Sharpe Press.
Polgreen, L., & French, H. W. (2007). New power in Africa: China’s
trade in Africa carries a price tag. New York Times, 21 August.
Reimer, J. J., & Stiegert, K. W. (2006). Evidence on imperfect compe-
tition and strategic trade theory: Evidence for international food and
agricultural markets, Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Or-
ganization, 4, 1136-1137.
Schmiegelow, H., & Schmiegelow, M. (1975). The new mercantilism
in international relations: The case of France’s external monetary
policy. International Or g a ni z a t i ons, 29, 369.
Snow, P. (1995). China and Africa: Consensus and camouflage. In T.
W. Robinson, & D. Shambaugh (Eds.), Chinese foreign policy: The-
ory and practice (pp. 285-287). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Sutter, R. G. (2008). Chinese foreign relations: Power and policy since
the Cold War (p. 309). Maryland: Rowman & Littlef ield, Inc.
Taylor, I. (2004). The “all-weather friend”? Sino-African interaction in
the twenty-first century. In I. Taylor, & P. Williams (Eds.), Africa in
international politics: External involvement on the continent (pp.
84-87). New York: Routledge Press.
Thurow, L. (1992). Head to head: The coming economic battle among
Japan, Europe, and America (pp. 245-58). New York: William Mor-
Tull, D. M. (2006). China’s engagement in Africa: Scope, significance,
and consequences. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 44, 460-
462. doi:10.1017/S0022278X06001856
Wang, J. (2004). China petroleum security and geography politics.
Resources and Industri e s , 6, 3-7.
Wang, J.-H. (2003). Globalization and latecomers: Implications of the
East Asian development model and its transition. Taiwanese Journal
of Sociology, 31, 1-45.
Xinhua (2006). The 11 th fi ve -year plan. Xinhua, 28 February.
Xu, X. (1998). The geopolitics of oil and gas in the new century:
China’s opportunities and challenges. Beijing: Social Sciences Aca-
demic Press (China).
Zekun, C. (2004). The problem of petroleum security under new global
geovisions on petroleum and the strategic thinking about China’s pe-
troleum security. International Studies, 2, 67-69.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 343