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Pipeline Politics
China Shores Up Its Overland Energy Supplies

Beijing has an energy problem. The Chinese economy may have slowed down somewhat recently, but the country still has great need of energy imports to meet its growing energy demand. Those imports open China up to geopolitical risk, and that’s especially true for energy sources that are shipped in over water policed by the U.S. Navy. It’s not surprising, then, that Beijing has placed a high priority on securing new lines of supply for overland energy imports, which means building thousands of miles of pipelines. As the FT reports, China just reached a final agreement with neighbor Myanmar to open up an oil pipeline route:

The twin crude and gas pipelines on the route are key to China’s “two oceans” strategy to diversify energy supply away from the chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca and vulnerable shipping lanes through the disputed South China Sea. Once fully operational, the pipeline from Made island in Rakhine state can supply almost 6 per cent of China’s crude oil imports. The gas line is already in use.

China has been moving to secure more oil and gas pipelines elsewhere too, having worked to develop a pipeline connection with Russia to secure Gazprom hydrocarbons. The two countries inked a preliminary agreement for a 30-year supply deal reportedly worth $400 billion back in 2014, though Moscow has scaled that deal down due to falling global oil and gas prices and concerns over instability in the Chinese economy.

That said, China is still going to have to look abroad to meet its energy demands, and in Beijing’s eyes, the fewer of those supplies come by ship, the better. This new Myanmar oil pipeline is just one piece of that larger puzzle.

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  • Dhako

    So after all the earnest talk in some western’s corners about how the “lady leader” of Burma will change the strategical “tilt” of her country away from China to West (in general) and to the US (in particular), we now have more prosaic reality that tells the same old story of Burma. Which was, in that particular region of the world, the only option is to be an “enemy” of China (with all that will entails, economically, strategically) and therefore tilt yourself to the West. Particularly, if you are not a big country like India.

    Although even in here, there are not that many nations in South East Asia in general or ASEAN States in particularly, who are in turn “gagging” to be an open enemy of China, notwithstanding with the all the blandishment in which the US has been trying to “win” over these states as reliable states who will confront China on the say so of Uncle Sam. Or failing that, then you will have “an offer you can’t refuse” in-terms of aligning, yourself, strategically, with a pronounced “tilt” towards China. And, this is what the military-influenced leadership of Burma (or Myanmar) have finally cottoned on to it.

    Hence, what this means, is that, gradually, the “fog of strategical confusion” will be lifted from the mind of the Burmese strategists, and they will act according to their nation’s interests, which align perfectly with China, in every conceivable metric you could care to evaluate any nation’s national interests.

    All in all, this news basically tells anyone with ear to hear things and with a sober mind to calculate things, that it’s essentially realize, that Geography is destiny when it comes to any strategical reality in which each nation in the world will find itself contending with. And, Burma, never had a chance in hell to be an “enemy” of China at the behest of the West (or at the behest of the US), as some deluded western strategists and Geo-Political thinkers were seriously giddy with that notion as a thought only a few years ago.

    • Isaiah601

      Japan and China trade with each other and yet are not allies. Hold your horses there papi.

      • Dhako

        Yes, but Japan is not dependent, solely, on her bilateral trade of China to prosper. Which is not the case with the rest of ASEAN states. Hence, if you find yourself having China as your largest trading partner bar none, then, any wishful thinking on the part of the US, which suggest to you, that, you can have your cake of trade with China, while, you are retaining your strategical cake alliance with US, will be seen as what it is, namely a deeply delusional wishful thinking. And, since, Burma (or Myanmar) is in the “boat” of depending the Chinese trade for their current and future prosperity, then, whatever fiction the US was selling to this country in-terms of convincing it to “turn” against China, from a strategical point-of-view, was always gone to be bogus to say the least, once the leaders there, calculate their national interest.

        And this is the reason, even the “lady-leader” of that country, couldn’t change the strategical reality of her country, in-terms of how Burma, will always be “dependent” on China, no matter how much, any strategical theoreticians in the Washington (or the Belt-Way) fantasize of “cleaving” Burma away from China. And, this gas deal” is basically, the affirmation of that reality. Which I am sure of it, the folks in Washington, who thinks this sort of things, will be mightily disappointed to notice how their best effort to “entice” this ASEAN state away from the Chinese’s sphere of influence, seems to have come to a cropper, indeed.

        • Isaiah601

          You seem to think that every state in Asia is just dreaming of being a vassal to China. Maybe you are right and this time they really do want that. Historically, you’ve been very very wrong.

  • Che Guevara

    What oil security? There’s no oil in Myanmar. It has to be shipped from the Middle East, so it’s insecure. The only secure source of energy for China is from Russia.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    China’s vulnerability to a Strategic Blockade makes their territorial ambitions look stupid.

    If China was wise, it would abandon its illegal occupation and territorial ambitions in the China Sea, sell all its State Owned Enterprises, become a Democracy built on the rule of law, and encourage a free market in China. Leftist policies have never worked anywhere.

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