The Diplomacy of Promoting Cooperation on Energy and Resources under the “Belt and Road” Initiative

2017-05-07, by SHI Ze, YANG Chenxi, from China Energy Fund Committee

The “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI) is a strategic conception for deepening economic, social, cultural and various other modes of cooperation between China and countries in regions to the west and south of China. Its key features are openness and inclusiveness, and it relies heavily on infrastructure and creative collaboration. This article focuses on energy and resources cooperation, which may greatly strengthen the mutually beneficial relations between countries and should be given priority in implementing the BRI. It also suggests three approaches for China to promote energy and resources cooperation under the framework of BRI:

First, China should plan and manage major-country relationships with countries such as Russia, India and the United States by deepening energy strategic partnership and promoting large projects cooperation.

Second, China should further strengthen its relationships with countries and international mechanisms in Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Middle East region.

Third, China should endeavor to build a favorable international environment by fostering favorable international public opinions for energy and resources cooperation among countries along the Belt and Road.

Executive Summary:

Consisting of four sections, this report focuses on policy advice on diplomatic measures to promote cooperation on energy and resources under the framework of Belt & Road Initiative (hereinafter referred to as BRI).

In Section 1, it elaborates on the connotation of BRI, and addresses what energy and resources cooperation is, its features and approaches. BRI is a strategic conception for deepening economic, social, cultural and various other modes of cooperation between China and countries in regions to the west and south of China. Its key features are openness and inclusiveness, and it relies heavily on infrastructure and creative collaboration.

The report argues that in light of the economic and social development need of China and countries on the west and south, and their economic complementary advantages, energy and resources cooperation should be among the top priorities in implementing the BRI as great potential for cooperation lies in it. Energy and resources cooperation is a long-term driving force for BRI and a major impetus towards a community of common destiny. It could help to maintain peace and stability in related regions and contribute to the establishment of new international energy order.

With opportunities and challenges faced by energy and resources cooperation in mind, section 2-4 suggest three key roles diplomacy could play in promoting energy and resources cooperation.

First and foremost, major power relations in the region should be managed deliberately. Sino-Russian energy strategic partnership should be deepened. Sino-U.S. cooperation on large projects in the area should be promoted, and hot issues should be well communicated. Between China and India, shared energy interests should be expanded.

Second, China should further strengthen its relations with countries and international mechanisms in Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Middle East. Through collaboration in fields as pipeline, trade and water resources, relations with Kazakhstan and Turkey are expected to be strengthened. China ought to attach great importance to the international mechanisms, like Eurasian Economic Union to be established, China-Brazil Energy Working Group and ASEAN, in particular, to make the utmost of them to facilitate the BRI.

Third, China should endeavor to build a favorable international environment by fostering favorable international public opinions for energy and resources cooperation among countries along the Belt and Road. Issues to be actively dealt with include (but not limited to) terrorism, energy transportation safety, and border/water resources disputes. Regulations and legislations on energy and resources trade and investment are also what cannot be neglected. Official diplomacy, track II diplomacy and public diplomacy are integral parts of an influential and powerful diplomacy.

This article was originally published with title ‘China's Diplomatic Efforts to Promote Energy and Resources Cooperation Along the “One Belt and One Road” in CIIS Report (May 2015) and has been granted authorization to use and reproduce by CEFC.

Executive summary is based on the article. Copyright © China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC). All rights reserved.