Local residents paddle a canoe past oil installations in Bonny Island, Nigeria, Aug. 17, 2006. (AP Photo)
Searching for Oil: China's Oil Strategies in Africa
Book Chapter, China into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence, pages 109-136
Author: Henry Lee, Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Environment and Natural Resources
Pressured by skyrocketing demand, Chinese oil companies have branched out across the globe seeking new oil supplies to feed the country’s economic growth. By 2006, China had made oil investments in almost every part of the world, including Africa. These initiatives have not been without controversy. From the commercial perspective, Western companies complain that China’s ability to link its oil investments to government-to-government financial assistance gives its companies an unfair advantage. From the political perspective, Western nongovernmental organizations have accused China of using its investments to support some of the more abusive, corrupt, and violent governments in the world. The poster child for this argument has been China’s support for the Sudanese government and its unwillingness to condemn publicly the genocidal practices of the janjaweed militias operating in Darfur.
China’s repeated contention that it does not get involved in domestic politics and that its relationships with African governments is strictly commercial is perceived by many as hollow. Critics argue that without China’s investments and tacit support, African governments, such as the Sudan’s, would be forced to amend their behavior
This chapter looks at the validity of these arguments and how they are manifested on the African continent. It focuses on China’s activities in the Sudan and Angola, not only because they are the largest measured, both in terms of dollar value and scope, but because they incorporate features that characterize Chinese efforts to secure incremental oil supplies from African countries.
- Lee China into Africa.pdf (354K PDF)
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