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Canadian Military Journal

The Prospective Interdependency of China’s and Canada’s Energy Security

Daniel MacIsaac
Colonel Daniel MacIsaac, CD, is a graduate student at Deakin University and the Australian Defence College’s Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies. His last position was as the Canadian Joint Operations Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff Strategy. He holds Bachelors of Engineering and Masters in Defence Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. Colonel MacIsaac gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Dr. Elizabeth Thomson, Academic Research Officer at the Australian Defence College’s Centre for Defence Research. This work is the sole opinion of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies, the Australian Department of Defence, the Canadian Department of National Defence, and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Abstract :

Energy security is central to contemporary global economics and politics because countries use it to support their national power. Net energy-consuming countries demand “…an adequate, reliable and affordable supply of energy and feel vulnerable if this cannot be assured.”3 Furthermore, net energy-supplying countries seek reliable and profitable energy sales to maximise the benefits from their resources.

Therefore, countries enact polices to achieve energy security by protecting the energy supply chain. Specifically, they attempt to gain and protect investment capital, technical competencies, natural resources, and access to international markets and distribution networks, while mitigating downstream effects on the environment and health.4 From differing perspectives and through a variety of means, both net-consuming and net-producing countries seek to enhance their energy security to sustain their development and to enhance their economic power.

Although their supply and demand perspectives differ, China and Canada share energy security concerns. “Energy security has become a big concern in China,”5 particularly since it became a net energy importer in 2009, and the world’s largest energy consumer in 2010.6 However, China lacks adequate and affordable domestic oil supplies to fuel its economy, so it is vulnerable to external threats while importing oil across contested lines of communication. Concurrently, Canada is concerned about reliable and profitable sales of its abundant oil. So, although Canada has benefited from selling 99 per cent of its oil exports to the US, the Chinese oil market offers more growth potential than the shrinking US market.7

This brief article argues that selling Canadian oil to China will improve both nations’ energy security. The arguments to support this position are that China will benefit from importing oil from secure sources across secure lines of communication, Canada will benefit from access to China’s growing oil market, and Canadian oil sales will enhance both countries’ domestic security. The article concludes by emphasizing that increased energy independency between Canada and China may also be useful in potentially mitigating any future Sino-Western security tensions.

Keywords :
The Prospective Interdependency of China’s and Canada’s Energy Security

Date Deposited : 08 Apr 2015 11:44

Last Modified : 08 Apr 2015 11:44

Official URL:

Volume 15, Number 1, - 2015

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