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Fueling the Chinese Economy

DC Book Launch: "By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World"

Speakers: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
February 4, 2014

Event Description

China's growing demand for natural resources has been a boon for commodity producers, but it has also raised concerns about its effects on the global economy. Following the publication of their new book, By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World, CFR Fellows Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi join CFR's Director of Studies James M. Lindsay to discuss some of their findings.

Event Highlights

Michael Levi on how fears that China is trying to corner the market in certain commodities are overblown:

"So, the piece you hear a lot is that China is locking up oil and is going to move us away from a global market that sort of separates economics and politics to one where they're much more intimately tied. But what you find is even as China acquires more resources—gets more equity oil investment, it's still trading most of the product on the world market. It's still trying to get a high price or as high a price as it can for it."

Elizabeth C. Economy on the growing independence of Chinese firms from the state:

"And in many instances, we've found, you know, that investment would be announced by the Chinese government—for example, in Brazil, there's been something like $70 billion worth of investment announced since 2007, but the realized investment is about a third of that. Now, part of that has to do with, you know, challenges that any company would face doing business in Brazil. But another part of it has to do with the fact that, you know, Chinese companies sometimes simply don't want to play the way that the Chinese state is telling them to."

Elizabeth C. Economy on China's efforts to set and enforce environmental standards for their companies involved in resource extraction:

"China at home is China abroad. And to the extent that any environmental regulation or—or, you know, stricture is somehow not being enforced on the home front—it's still not being enforced necessarily abroad. I would say that enforcement is spotty. So, corporate social responsibility—those things are developing in China and they're developing in terms of Chinese practices abroad. But I would say we're still at a kind of nascent stage."


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