Securitisation of oil supply chains in China

Leung, Guy CK, Aleh Cherp, Jessica Jewell, and Yi-Ming Wei. 2014. “Securitization of Energy Supply Chains in China.” Applied Energy 123 (June): 316–26. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2013.12.016.

Energy policies in China, the world’s largest energy consumer, are an important factor in shaping the global energy system. Though energy security is a major driver of China’s energy policies, there is insufficient understanding of the exact political meaning of China's energy security. We apply the definition of energy security as low vulnerability of vital energy systems and the securitization theory to explain China’s energy security policies in their historic evolution. We draw data from over 300 Chinese and over 100 English publications and 30 interviews with energy officials and experts in China. We demonstrate that China’s focus on vulnerabilities of its oil supply chain at the expense of improving the reliability of domestic electricity supply is not accidental. It has its roots in historic events, properties of energy systems, as well as the presence of powerful institutional agents interested in securitizing the oil supply chain but not other vital energy systems. We suggest that this focus on the oil supply chain is likely to be maintained in the future, possibly accompanied by increasing concerns over natural gas supply. Our proposed framework for energy security policy analysis can be used for other countries and jurisdictions.