Indo-China Economic Cooperation in Africa and its Significance in International Relations

Africa Digest, March 2006 (First Quarter), Indo-African Society, Delhi.

Interview with Mr. Xia Yishan, Director, Energy Research Centre and Sr. Research Fellow, China Institute of International Studies.

Interviewer: Dr. Suresh Kumar


Brief CV

Mr. Xia joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1960. He joined CIIS in 1979. His research areas cover Russian and Central Asian Affairs, relation between big powers and energy strategy. Mr. Xia enjoys the government’s “distinguished contributor’ specialist allowance.


1. Qus.: What is China’s strategy for Energy Security?

Ans.: The aim of China’s strategy for energy security is to maintain abundant energy supplies, especially the sufficient, secure and stable supply of oil, to secure the sustainable development of economy and the improvement of people’s living conditions. China’s strategy for energy security is made according to the conditions of our energy resources storage, supply and demand especially the conditions of oil resources. Although China is resource rich country as well as producer of energy in the world, its energy supplies cannot meet its increasing demands, and the gap between demand and supply becomes larger and larger. In recent years, China has been continuously bothered by the deficiency of electricity, coal and oil. The energy problem has become the bottleneck in our sustainable development.

2. Qus.: Do you see India as a competitor of China in Energy sector in Africa?

Ans.: India and China are working in oil and mining sectors in Africa. There is no doubt that both countries are having a tough competition between them to fetch more and more oil resources in Africa. India and China are having good relations with different African countries and maintaining good relations with them. There is a need to introduce each other with these different African countries, which will develop our (India and China) area of energy ventures in these countries and getting opportunity to work together.

More over, the economic competition between India and China leads to more and more favourable positions in African countries. This competition creates a healthy atmosphere from investment point of view. It strengthens their solidarity with African countries affirmatively. This healthy competition between Indian and China do not produce any hostile environment to each other vis-a-vis Africa.

3. Qus. : How India and China will work together in Energy sector in Africa?

Ans.: Both countries are working together in oil sector in Sudan. China is going to expand its area in oil sector in Sudan. India and China are succeeded in getting 50% of oil sector tenders in their favour in Sudan. This is the beginning point for Indo-China cooperation. India-Iran energy cooperation is a visible example in front of us and China and India will work in comparable way in Africa. More over, this tender method in Sudan will stop competition between India and China in oil sector in Africa.

Indo-china is strong political and economic power today in world. This cooperation is an additional advantage to strengthen their relations with different African countries that will lead to joint ventures in Africa. There are some oil fields available in Africa in which western countries are not interested either to buy or work in it. This is an opportunity for India and China to get these oil resources and initiate work together. Indo-China close cooperation will initiate to place tender together in oil sector to keep away from any conflict or misunderstanding.

4. Qus.: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh, India is working in oil sector. India likes to work with China national oil company as compare to private companies. What is your opinion about it?

Ans.: China national oil company & private oil companies are working efficiently in Africa. Both the private and public sector are providing quality services as per international standard. More over, number of western countries wants to move with Chinese private companies and not with the Chinese national oil company. Private sectors are showing more efficiency as compare to Government Company in Africa. Along with it, political relations with western countries may be an issue not to move with Chinese national oil company.

Now, it is up to India’s decision to work either with Chinese govt. sector or with private one.

5. Qus.: Can India and China work in Nigeria oil sector together?

Ans.: At present, China is working in 35 oil fields in Nigeria. China is searching more oil resources their. Nigeria is having problem supplying oil domestically and like to persuade its distribution under the direction of China.

China imported oil from Nigeria nearly 130 billion last year. But more than 80% of oil requirement satisfied from outside Africa in China. Indo-china cooperation will develop more and more energy resources. Energy cooperation will be reserved as additional benefit for both these countries.

India and China are facing risk in Africa in different manner. There is a need to work collectively in Africa keeping their different African countries associations in mind.

Qus: – Can Indo-China work in Libya oil sector?

Ans: – Both countries can go to any place in Africa. Therefore, India is remarkable opportunity to work together.

Qus: – What do you suggest to strengthen Indo-China cooperation in Africa?

Ans: – Economic cooperation and development requires peaceful relations with neighbours like India and China. Indo-China joint ventures will produce more friendship and strong neighborhood, which will strengthen the economy of Afro-Asian region positively. The fast growing economy of India will persuade China to work hard; strengthen Indo-China east policy that will reinforce India, East China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong economy.

Today, US is improving its economic relations with China because of its fast growing economy. China – US relations persuades Asian countries to work together to turn the dream of Asian Union into reality.

The intellectual scholars and officials related to this sector should communicate more, search for new areas and carry forward their mutual discussion on it. The second bi-lateral talk is required to recommend the energy sector, which will strengthen bi-lateral relations between India and China.

Along with it, the energy organizations of both countries should work and discuss mutual interest directly with or without government interference. Burma oil problem is not yet solved till today. Both the government should work together and solve it in a cogenial environment. The Indo-China or Burma border dispute needs to keep aside for economic cooperation. Once the Indo-China joint economic cooperation will get hold of in African market, the political problems will be solved gradually.


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