Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

Geopolitics of Transport China's Strategy for Resource Access in Central Asia

Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

Geopolitics of Transport China's Strategy for Resource Access in Central Asia

Article excerpt

The sudden development of China in recent years has been noticed by the whole world. China started to open up and reformed its economy in the year 1978 when the GDP growth of China was 9.4 percent. It was one of the highest growth rates in the world. Today, it has a foreign trade of $ 851 million and it accounts four percent of the world economy. The rapid growth of Chinese economy has another side too, i.e. the increasing demand for energy, raw material, water and other resources. The availability of water per capita is one fourth of world average, while the present cultivable land is 40 percent of the average of the world. The per capita amount of other resources like natural gas, oil, aluminium and copper is 4.1 percent, 8.3 percent, 9.7 percent and 25.5 percent respectively to the world average.1 China has a population base of 1.3 billion and it is not expected to decline until it reaches 1.5 billion in the year 2030. There has been an increasing demand for resources to serve this huge population base. The growth of the country has led to the continuous development of urban infrastructure and dependency on the energy utilising activities, which in turn has increased the demand for necessary resources to maintain the present lifestyle.

Today China is the second largest economy of the world but the economic growth of the nation has many limitations. One of the most critical limitation is the availability of resources to fulfil the increased demand in the country. These resources are energy sources like oil and gas and other raw materials like steel, rubber, minerals etc. It is quite clear that China will be needing the import destination which can fulfil the demand for these resources, especially the energy resources as the number of manufacturing and other industries are increasing in the country. The demand for these resources has also increased in the domestic sector and the increased number of automobiles has further put the pressure on China. The country has become the largest automobile market in the world from a no private vehicle country in the recent years. The dearth of resources could badly hit the economy of this country.

China has become world's largest energy consumer in the last twenty years with the consumption of about 20 percent of the world energy consumption. The country used to be an oil exporter country in 1990s, but the recent demands of oil in the nation has made it the second largest oil importer country of the world. In the year 1993, due to the rise in the domestic consumption of oil, China abandoned its energy self-sufficiency goal and imported the oil for the first time. The demand of energy will reach 75 percent by the year 2035 and by then it will lead USA in energy consumption. The booming economy of China requires more than 50 percent of oil import in coming years.2 The use of natural gas is not very high, it is about 3 percent of the national energy consumption in China. But the country has now decided to increase the usage of this resource to 10 percent in the coming years.

China has an abundance of coal resources, but coal has been decided to be replaced by natural gas due to the rapid industrial development in the country. The demand for the natural gas will be 13 million barrels per day in the country by the year 2020.3 The other resource in which China is facing shortage is the Uranium. The recent nuclear energy industry could lead to the shortage of this resource in the country. The shortage of electricity has also lead to look toward the sources outside the country. The energy demand of China has been further mentioned by Fazilov and Chen in their article with the support of the data, stating:

"Chinas rapidly growing demand for energy is fuelled by its energyintensive industries like steel, aluminium, automobiles, electronics and chemicals. China now accounts for about 35 percent of the worlds steel production and about 50 percent of the world' cement production. …

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