China and the competition for oil and gas in Asia
While its economic dynamism stimulates continued growth in Asia, China's increasing demand for energy is creating intense competition, particularly with Japan, over international sources of supply. Domestic fields have generally been disappointing, as have efforts to pipe gas from Central Asia and Russia to the east coast. Consequently, China is not only paying greater attention to potential petroleum resources in the East and South China Seas, but also considering the vulnerability of its sea-lanes to the Middle East and beyond. Its need to diversify has promoted closer relations with Central Asia, the Middle East, and the oil producing countries of Africa and Latin America, but the jury is out on whether China's concerns for secure energy supply will lead to international cooperation against terrorism or fuel the already heated competition for oil and gas. As China continues to assure its future energy security in Asia and many areas of the world, sustained bilateral and multilateral diplomacy to reconcile disputes and avoid conflict will become more important than ever.