AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 753

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Session 753: Politics of Energy in Asia

When Liberalized Coal Meets Monopolized Electricity: An Energy Dilemma for China
Chung-min Tsai, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Although China is the world’s largest coal producer and one of its major coal exporters, China’s thermal power stations, which contribute to more than 75 per cent of electricity supply, have paradoxically suffered from coal shortage and been forced to import from abroad. Negotiations between coal and electricity suppliers are trapped and the struggles continue. This paper seeks to explain how the institutional constraints generate and enhance these contradictions. By examining the industrial structures and regulatory frameworks in these two industries, I argue that various levels of liberalization and regulatory development have led to tension between the upstream and downstream industries in China’s energy sector. This paper finds that a competitive market and rising prices in the coal industry give rise to its escalating conflict with the power sector, which remains heavily constrained by state intervention and fixed tariffs. It points out that regulatory authority in the coal industry merely focuses on the issue of safety, while its counterpart in the power sector fails to function due to fragmented power. Both regulatory agencies are unable to promote cooperation between coal enterprises and electricity firms. This paper also extends the discussion to debates in the Chinese political economy literature on sustainable economic development.

The Determinants of Energy Security Policies in Southeast Asia: The Cases of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand
Andrea Valente, SOAS, University of London, Portugal

There is considerable discussion on the significance and role of energy security in the ambit of broader security concerns. Traditionally, security is analysed by international relations theory either through competitive or cooperative lens. However, it is not clear whether this debate sufficiently explains the energy security equation. Remarkably little research has been carried out on the actual determinants of national energy policy decisions – driven by competition, cooperation or by other explanations? Departing from the main assumption that different states pursue different energy strategies in their attempt to ensure a certain degree of energy security, the aim of this paper will be to assess why they adopt different policies and which are the factors that determine their choices. The objective is thus to identify which are the preferences of states when formulating their energy security policies. Is the availability of domestic energy resources the single determinant of energy security policy? Do regional institutions have an effect on state behaviour, and thus on fostering cooperation among states in what regards the exploitation of energy resources? Or should we consider the dynamics within the state and its effect on national interest and policy choices? This paper aims to respond to these questions examining how the chosen independent variables interact to determine energy security policy decisions in three different countries in Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Russian Energy Strategy Towards the Asia-Pacific Countries: To What Extent It Will Change the Energy Balance in This Area?
Xu Liu, Hokkaido University, Japan

Russia is one of the most oil and gas abundant countries in the world, but the production and export of the resources are traditionally oriented to the European market. The Asia-Pacific countries, such as USA, China and Japan, are major energy-consuming countries and the large part of their needed energy products are dependent on import, especially that from Middle East. It is a game of match that Russia will break in new market to expand her export revenue while Asian consuming countries will use the Russian energy as an alternative to that from Middle East. Russian energy strategy towards the Asia-Pacific countries has another respect which is to develop domestic resource exploration and regional economy. This results in dissonance on price, pipeline routes and terms of trade between Russia and her Asian counterparts. However, the start of oil export based on the ESPO pipeline and LNG export from Sakhalin set a positive signal that Russia has potential to take her own share in the regional market. The strengthened government-control on resource industry in Russia and the lack of mutual trust between China and Japan make the energy cooperation between these countries more complicated than that in Europe. It results in the exaggeration of the role of geopolitics. In contrary, the recent progress of the energy cooperation of these countries showed that the world economic situation and the terms of oil and gas trade are the key to understand the energy sketch in this area.

'(Japan) Can't Get Started': A Comparative Analysis of Biofuel Policies in the United States and Japan
Jay Klaphake, Ritsumeikan University, Japan

The increasing awareness of the need for increased environmental protection measures and the steep rise in energy prices in recent years led the governments of Japan and the U.S. to introduce a series of policies aimed at promoting production and distribution of biofuel, or a type of fuels that were produced from biomass. Much was expected of the two countries’ biofuel policies; however, their policy outcomes produced a clear contrast. While the biofuel policy of the U.S. government was arguably a success on at least several levels, the policy was an enormous failure in Japan. The United States became the world’s second largest producer of biofuel within a short period of time, and biofuel is widely distributed and sold in gasoline stations throughout the U.S. In contrast, the Japanese government failed, despite the fact that powerful ministries such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture did their utmost to promote production and distribution of biofuel. Biofuel production in Japan is still limited, and the commercial sale of biofuel is almost nonexistent. What caused the different policy outcomes in the U.S. and Japan? This study attempts to answer this question by examining the biofuel-related policies of the two countries and analyzing the context underlying the differences in outcomes. The paper will also address some challenges and difficulties both countries currently face in their biofuel campaigns, and will offer some solutions to overcome these challenges.