01 November 2007

Beijing’s Energy Security Strategy: The Significance of a Chinese State-Owned Tanker Fleet

Andrew S. Erickson and Gabriel Collins, Beijing’s Energy Security Strategy: The Significance of a Chinese State-Owned Tanker Fleet,” Orbis, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Fall 2007), pp. 665-84.

Chinese shipping firms are aggressively expanding their oil tanker fleets. Although China’s state energy firms support national energy security goals in their rhetoric, and China’s state shipbuilders are striving to lead global production, commercial forces will almost certainly determine how these ships are employed. However, energy security considerations may have some influence in determining China’s naval force structure. The majority of new tankers being built for Chinese shipping firms will fly China’s flag, which helps set a legal basis for militarily protecting these vessels. As Chinese naval power and oil import dependency rise, security-minded factions in China’s leadership may use the country’s resource needs to justify further pursuit of blue water naval capabilities.