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Xu Qinhua

Research Fellow at the National Academy of Development and Strategy, Renmin University of China

Professor of School of International Studies, Renmin University of China

12

May

2017

Xu Qinhua: The B&R Energy Cooperation Progressing and its Geo-economic Implications

The regions along the B&R are the "hearts of the world", as suggested by the geopolitical scientist Mackinder, and they include the countries in Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and West Asia; these regions are also the rim lands proposed by Spykman, and they include the Southeast Asian countries along the "Silk Road Economic Zone". Both definitions refer to the broad areas for which marine and overland powers will fight hard and which also make up the composite zones of land power and sea power.

Those who control the central areas (the hearts) and the rim zones of the central area will control the Eurasian continent; those who control the Eurasian continent will control the fate of the world. According to the world system theory proposed by Wallenstein, a representative of new Marxism, this region is made up of peripheral and semi-peripheral countries that provide resources, labor and capital to the core countries, and the B&R strategy covers this region.

All the above-referred international political economy theories all demonstrate that the region of B&R is composed of most countries who are striving for the wealthy and the social stability, which is full of geo-economic implications to the whole world and undoubtedly will bring huge impact the global politics. In another word, if the Chinese B&R Initiative can be successfully taking the economic effects, the geo-political impact will be positive.

Energy is one of the priorities of the B&R Initiative. There are great differences in the endowment of energy and resources among the countries along the B&R. These differences are reflected not only in traditional oil and gas resources, but also in advantageous production capacity, new energy technologies, energy funds, energy infrastructure construction capacity, and energy equipment, of which China all has the strengths.

China can strengthen the common energy security, reduce regional energy poverty, and improve the living quality of the people in the regions along the B&R through energy investment, power grid construction, and the laying of oil and gas pipelines. It can also transfer advantageous capacity stock and energy equipment and serve the countries along the B&R through the energy cooperation.

In the late 1990s, Chinese energy companies began to invest in energy in Eurasia, and currently, an internally linked energy transmission network, which is composed of the oil and gas pipelines that extend from Russia to Central and Eastern Europe and between China and Russia, the oil pipelines between China and Kazakhstan, the natural gas pipeline between China and the Central Asia, and the oil and gas pipeline between China and Myanmar, has been built on the Eurasian continent.

This network fully integrates the major largest energy production centers - the Middle East, Baku and the Caucasus in the former Soviet Union, and Central Asia- with the demand center: the Asia-Pacific region, which is currently the fastest growing consumer of energy. Energy cooperation with resource countries, importing countries and transient countries along the route will boost common prosperity in these regions.

It is a way for China to pursue common and sustainable energy security as by tapping into its energy strength, and based on the increasingly shared new energy security concept among the 65 countries along the route (including China), China can provide international public goods for these regions, thus laying a solid foundation for China to carry out other cooperation with the countries along "The Belt and Road".

(The author is a professor with the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China.)