Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Energy Security and the Spectrum of Engagement Between China and India in the Indian Ocean

The redistribution of global power resulting from the rise of India and China has increased the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean.

Its sea lanes supply both countries with the majority of their imported natural resources and, as a consequence, determine their energy security. While maritime security for these sea lanes therefore serves as an overlapping interest, the scarcity of energy resources, especially for energy consumers, is driving intense global economic competition between the two powers for long-term energy supplies. This in turn introduces great complexity into projections of the nature of their long-term relationship. The result is a full spectrum of analyses, ranging from deep coordination on one end to full-scale confrontation on the other. Since systemic factors strongly disincentive the extremes, the future of the relationship almost certainly lies somewhere in the range of limited cooperation to limited confrontation. However, the erosion of American unipolarity has made this calculation difficult at best. In such a complex environment, a survey of the full spectrum of possibilities proves especially useful as aspects of each likely will influence the evolution of the rising powers’ engagement.

Revisionist collaboration
Intensive cooperation between India and China could be realized through the coordination of state actions to promote their shared interests. This coordination likely would be the result of formal contract and enforcement through international treaties and organizations or new norms and conventions that provide informal guides for state conduct specifically in regions that affect the actors’ energy security.

As China remains uncomfortable with international energy markets and institutions, it is unlikely that this coordination would arise within the status quo. Instead, new institutions or norms almost certainly would be the result of revisionist action by both actors to reshape a regional system that fails to properly accommodate their rising power interests. More >>>

Location: Islamabad

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