Testimony by Mikkal Herberg Before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, January 26, 2012

I first would like to thank the members of the Commission for the opportunity to testify to this important group. It is an honor and a privilege.

I have been asked to speak about China’s approach to securing its energy supplies and implications for the United States. I will discuss China’s approach, whether it is impacting global energy markets and the competitive prospects of American energy companies, how Beijing’s energy security drive is influencing maritime territorial and sea lane disputes in the seas around Asia, and some suggestions on U.S. policy towards the developments.

The global energy market impact of China reflects the enormous scale of its rising oil demand and Beijing’s increasingly active strategic diplomacy designed to secure future energy supplies. Energy security has become a critical political and economic concern for Beijing’s leadership. First, at a visceral level, China’s leaders fear that energy shortages and rising energy costs could undermine the country’s economic growth and thus seriously jeopardize job creation which could potentially lead to serious social instability. For a regime that increasingly stakes its political right to rule on economic performance and rising living standards, the threat of economic stagnation could threaten the continued political monopoly of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Hence, energy security is a strategic domestic political concern for the leadership. Beijing also has been alarmed by the huge rise in global energy prices over the past decade and the increasing risk of long-term global oil “scarcity.”

For the complete testimony, download the pdf at the top of the page

Image adapted from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and is public domain.