In the context of China’s primary energy supply, it can be argued that a key portion of its energy security is represented by the extent of its reliance on imported oil. We offer an explanation for this narrow definition of energy security and contrast three potential approaches to address it. They are not the only possibilities, nor are they strictly mutually exclusive, but they illustrate the spread of policy options available to China. A continuation of the status quo, with all its inherent tensions and short term costs, is compared to extending aspects of the current policy spectrum into explicit priorities, either in vigorously expanding oil exploration and production or retrenching into increased coal reliance. With the fourth approach, we raise the possibilities of renewables and demand-side management, pointing to both their economy-wide potential but also their limitations. Yet despite these limitations, this last approach perhaps remains China’s preferred solution, and is consistent with similar trends worldwide.
Debating the Trade-offs in China’s Oil Import Security.