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Tracking China's Resource Quest

NY 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: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
January 29, 2014

Event Description

CFR Fellows Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi join CFR President Richard N. Haass to discuss their recently published book, By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World. The authors outline the economic and political implications of growing Chinese demand for natural resources. From increased Chinese investment in the developing world, to a more assertive military posture in the East and South China Seas, Chinese economic growth has spurred major changes, both for China and the rest of the world.

Event Highlights

Michael Levi on the Chinese effort to secure access to natural resources and its implications for regional security in East Asia:

"And we tend to take this integrated nature of the global economy for granted that something produced in one part of the world can be moved to another very quickly. I don't know that the Chinese do, particularly when they look at their backyard, at the sea lanes near them, congested, contested by a lot of different countries, for a variety of different reasons, not just because of resource trade. But increasingly I think you see China paying attention and asserting its interests in that region."

Elizabeth Economy on Chinese investment in Africa:

"[O]ne of the interesting things that we found was that China really—its resource quest is primarily rooted in trade rather than investment. And actually when you look at Chinese investment in Africa compared to others, it actually ranks fourth in the world. It's not the largest investor in Africa, which, you know, everybody assumes."

Michael Levi on the relationship between Chinese companies and government planners:

"One thing that came up over and over as we were researching the book is that the Chinese government is less capable of directing companies to do specific things than a lot of people believe. They can try to put together packages, but the companies don't necessarily play ball. The CEOs of the biggest companies have equal rank to the ministers that are supposed to govern them. So it makes it tough for one to win out over the other."


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