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By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World

By Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi

Oxford University Press, 2014

Is China’s global search for resources fundamentally changing the world, or is this quest bringing China steadily into the sphere of existing international norms? This detailed account from Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi posits that the truth lies at neither extreme, and is dependent more on the nation and resource in question. From sea lanes in Asia to nickel mines in Zambia, there are far-reaching consequences for China’s resource quest. And while Chinese companies bring their domestic practices to where they invest, the Economy and Levi identify a China which is transforming and adjusting its tactics as it is brought into the existing economic, political, and security backdrop. With numerous case studies, Economy and Levi provide practical advice on how individuals, companies, and governments should intelligently respond to the realities of China’s resource quest.  


  • As Chinese people moved into the middle class, they consumed more, rapidly outstripping China’s own ability to produce the resources needed to fuel its economy. The trend was turbocharged in the mid-2000s as China built up cities, industry, power plants, roads, and railways, boosting demand for everything from steel to coal.

  • China’s resource quest appears to color the country’s foreign policy too. China seemingly clashes with its coastal neighbors over the oil and gas riches of the South and East China Seas, uses its muscle to divert rivers to the detriment of other countries downstream, and strikes bargains with former Soviet republics and others to its west to secure new supplies of fuel and new routes to transport them.

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