Energy security and Chinese influence in Kazakhstan
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Energy security has been for decades one of the most important issues for the world economy. Since the 1970s, the supply of energy has meant a sure basis for the economic development of a country, it does not matter whether the country was an exporter or an importer. This problem is paramount for those countries that must sustain a huge economy like China, but it is likewise important for those countries that based their export sector -and their economies- on an energy resource. Oil is the energy resources of this dissertation -and to be more precise, crude oil- that represents the first good exported by Kazakhstan, the second country analyzed in this work. What I analyze are the relations in the oil sector between these two countries in the period 2014-2018. This period is crucial for the history of China because represents the first five years of the Belt and Road Initiative and the moment during the Kazakh economy was tested by the fall of the oil prices and the action of the Chinese oil firm in its own oil assets. My research question is: in a situation of economic asymmetry between two countries trading energy resource -one with a strong developed economy and one with a weak national economy based on the export of natural resource- will the importer country with the stronger economy able to increase its power over the exporter country? The answer to this question is negative, because despite the economic asymmetry between two countries, if the exporting country bases its economy on the natural resource traded, an importing country will meet resistance from the exporting country and will not be able to increase its power over it. To verify this hypothesis, I will apply the Asymmetry Theory theorized by Brantley Womack. This theory has been used to analyze the relations between China and Vietnam, and this application to the relations between China and Kazakhstan represents a novelty. To each of the key concepts -energy security, power, and multi-vector policy- is dedicated a deep analysis.
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