01-11-2013 | Energy Diplomacy

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"It's an example of what we call energy diplomacy," says Mikkal Herberg, the research director on Asian energy security at the National Bureau of Asian Research and a former director for global energy and economics at ARCO. "You have these Chinese oil companies that want to go out and explore for oil where everyone else is, that's their economic instinct. So what they do is feed the Beijing leadership's perception that they can support China's international expansion and create new allies while at the same time providing for the country's energy security. Then Beijing willingly supplies the funding for these companies to go out and capture oil. But the truth is, in many ways Beijing wants to remain at arm's length from the regimes it does business with. Their attitude is, let's access the energy resources, but let's not get dragged into the domestic politics and geopolitics of these regions."

"They do what they call friendship and cooperation, which basically is building soccer stadiums and things like that, and they have official state visits where they profess deep long-term relationships with their new friends. But for the most part they don't want to get involved with influencing policy in these regions. They're just trying to support their own business and economic interests. And this detached attitude often is very attractive to the countries where China's investing, because the last thing they want is outside influences telling them what to do."

From Eric J. Weiner's "The Shadow Market," page 91

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