Securitization of energy supply chains in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Guy C.K. Leung
  • Aleh Cherp
  • Jessica Jewell
  • Yi-Ming Wei


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-326
Journal / PublicationApplied Energy
Online published7 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


Energy policies in China, the world’s largest energy consumer, are an important factor in shaping the global energy system. While scholars agree that energy security is a major driver of China’s energy policies, there is insufficient understanding of what exactly constitutes China’s energy security from the policy perspective. We apply recent insights from the Global Energy Assessment, particularly the idea of vital energy systems, and the securitization theory to propose a framework for explaining China’s energy security policies in their historic evolution. We pay specific attention to explaining how particular energy supply chains are constructed and securitized. We draw data from over 300 Chinese and over 100 English publications and 30 interviews with energy officials and experts in China. We demonstrate that China’s focus on vulnerabilities of its oil supply chain at the expense of improving the reliability of domestic electricity supply is not accidental. It has its roots in historic events, properties of energy systems, as well as the presence of powerful institutional agents interested in securitizing the oil supply chain but not other vital energy systems. We suggest that this focus on the oil supply chain is likely to be maintained in the future, possibly accompanied by increasing concerns over natural gas supply chains. Our proposed framework for energy security policy analysis can be used for other countries and jurisdictions.

Research Area(s)

  • Energy security, Supply chain, China, Institution, Governance, Securitization

Citation Format(s)

Securitization of energy supply chains in China. / Leung, Guy C.K.; Cherp, Aleh; Jewell, Jessica; Wei, Yi-Ming.

In: Applied Energy, Vol. 123, 15.06.2014, p. 316-326.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review