Home > Analysis, News, politics > CNN and Financial Times spin news of China topping U.S. in importing oil as shake up to geopolitics of natural resources

CNN and Financial Times spin news of China topping U.S. in importing oil as shake up to geopolitics of natural resources

CNN recently repeated an article from Financial Times on the news China has temporarily overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer. In spinning this news, their narrative went as follows:

“China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest net importer of oil, in a generational shift that will shake up the geopolitics of natural resources.”

First of all, China offers a lesson to the world, and especially to the NATO countries. You can become the world’s #1 net importer of oil without invading and occupying countries. You simply trade. China just did it. And, the last time I checked, it doesn’t appear China is upsetting any geopolitics. Is China kicking out American bases anywhere for oil? Nope. America may withdraw some ships from the region because America is becoming less dependent on Middle East oil, but that is on America’s own accord. So, all we have here is CNN and Financial Times agitating fear within the American public; corporate media and military industrial complex on display.

  1. Zack
    March 4th, 2013 at 23:56 | #1

    it’s because the american public in their castrated and sheeplike state (intentional on the part of the American Elites) can only be galvanised to action when a threat is highlighted-or when the situation is framed as a war.
    Even the drive for green energy is framed as a ‘manhatten project’.
    the US is still spending trillions on its military, only it’s focusing on China’s backyard because
    1) asian countries have money to spend, so why not spend it on american weapons? why need american weapons?
    2) because america said so, because america said China is a threat, despite China not having invaded another country in this generation.

  2. Zack
    March 5th, 2013 at 14:15 | #2

    3) in order for America to sell these weapons, the political arm of the USG pumps up this image of the ‘China threat’ in an underhanded way of reviving the US economy via a boom in defence and arms spending and manufacturing.

    in the world of geopolitics, i think Washington is experiencing a virtual civil war between factions who want a ‘G-2’ between China and the US, and those who want a new Cold War between China and the US. In this sense, countries like Russia would love that sort of things because it means less pressure on them but others like Australia are going to be forced to make a decision very very soon.

    Finally, China importing oil isn’t exactly a favorable thing IMHO; it serves to highlight the Chinese economy’s dependence on foreign oil and is therefore at the mercy of the blockade threat by the US Navy. Perhaps the biggest benefit from this is that the price of oil now depends in a large part on Chinese demand and let’s face it. even if China’s infrastructure was majority Green powered, the country still needs oil for fertilizers, agriculture and other goods.

    if i may digress, Chinese technology and research is the most underreported things in Western media. For instance, you’d think that for a country as large as China, they’d need whole swathes of forests to source their paper right? the reality is that China’s paper recycling business is pretty efficient and morover, Chinese scientists have developed GM trees that grow faster and larger in order to source paper:

    Now the troubling thing (yinyang, i think we’re going to need another thread in this topic) i’m finding as a scientist is that you have idiots in US Congress who want to penalise US researchers and scientists who ‘divulge US state secrets’ when the wording on that is really vague. As scientists, it’s normal to collaborate and discuss ideas and communicate, so what the hell are american and Chinese scientists supposed to do when some retard in Washington who believes in creationism orders them not to do their jobs?
    Already, US and Chinese scientists collaborate on a great number of projects.

  3. March 6th, 2013 at 12:59 | #3

    Right, Zack. These sort of spins will invariably harm the Chinese American community. I was told two Chinese American engineers were trying to do a start-up. The FBI decided to investigate them (god knows who provided the insinuations). After two years of ruinous investigation, which they were then cleared, they lost will to continue. I assume it’s over some bullshit IP theft or something.

    The climate in the U.S. is increasingly hostile to Chinese working in high-tech or science. This is one of the key areas where pure ingenuity and hard work could yield success.

    Alas, everything becomes politicized. There are those in America who wish there is no collaboration on projects with the Chinese whatsoever.

  4. Zack
    March 6th, 2013 at 15:01 | #4

    yinyang, if you’re to look at the names of most of the research papers in the material and biomed sciences these past 10-15 years, you’ll find a great number of Chinese names in the authorship. If those in America wish to gut their own source of ‘ideas and innovation’ then all they have to do is issue a blanket ban on all scientific cooperation between Chinese and American scientists-though, that’s as realistic as splitting the american and chinese economies. Both parties are married whether they want to or not.

    Previously, when the USG banned Chinese media from filming NASA rockets from taking off, i took it as a sign of further scientific estrangement between China and the US. The US is alone when it comes to denying China a spot on the ISS-but in all fairness, it works out for the Chinese as well. Sole ownership of a domestic space sector means greater freedom-look at how NASA has coopted the resources of other ISS countries over the justification that since it spends the lion’s share of the ISS, it must therefore accrue the lion’s share of the benefits from the ISS.

    btw can anyone recommend a good blog or site that keep track of current Chinese inventions or research?

    At the risk of going off topic, i should comment in relation to this thread that China is currently the largest source of Shale oil, surpassing even the US. Chinese investment in North American shale and gas fields is but a sign of this.

  5. Charles Liu
    March 6th, 2013 at 17:03 | #5

    The vilification of China by our media is again blatantly obvious in these kind of story – scary locust hoard of Chinese subhumans undeserving of energy consumption threatening our first world needs. The dominate narrative in this (and the coal consumption news couple weeks ago) both cite absolute consumption by China without considering China’s population.

    The facts are each Chinese person’s oil and coal consumption is fraction of American’s, and part of their carbon footprint is for producing goods ultimately for our comsumption.

    The official narrative on this matter is completely understandable, that highlighting China’s meager per-capita energy consumption will lead to humane stories on China and invariably focus on America’s own enormous energy appetite and waste.

  6. Zack
    March 6th, 2013 at 17:44 | #6

    @Charles Liu
    many of these racists pine for the days of the 90s when they enjoyed the excesses of the Bush and Clinton administrations at the expense of productive nations-and, most importantly, when non westerners were slavishly subservient to the interests of the West.
    i’ve actually heard it said from one such individual that ‘filipinos’ were his favourite type of Asian, presumably because they appeared to be the most slavish to American interests. In essence, this is the sort of viewpoint that the US led world order believes; that Asians are only good if they are subservient ie in their ;’rightful place’ but a threat if they even so much as dare to assume equality with that of the white man eg anti japanese bashing in the 80s and current sinophobia.

  7. March 7th, 2013 at 08:59 | #7


    Previously, when the USG banned Chinese media from filming NASA rockets from taking off

    That’s all due to one hick, Frank Wolf — but I will get to it later.

    Once I sat next to an urbane and affable lad in a London casino, and we started chatting. One thing led to another, we were both amused at how in the “land of the free”, while some crazily powerful weapons were legally and easily attainable, playing a few hands of poker or waging a few shekels on a sports game online was strictly prohibited. By crazily powerful weapons, I mean the types that would make Adam Lanza’s 2nd Amendment weapons of choice, look like something used by doll Ken, metrosexual edition.

    The online gambling ban was some legal code slipped into a totally unrelated bill on the safety of American ports, during the last minutes when everybody in the Congress was dead tired and just wanted to leave. Most of the congresspersons and senators only read about it later after they approved it, but by then they weren’t motivated enough to go through the tedious motion to dismiss the chicanery of a few others. That’s how some of the strange American laws are made, by somebody pulling a fast one.

    Frank Wolf, a Virginian hick who has been in the congress for more than 3 decades, did the same thing during an appropriation bill — he managed to slip some verbiage banning any cooperation between NASA and China. Once that’s fait accompli, he is supremely motivated to take NASA and the Administration to task on any possible violation of the law he created on his own. This apparently included a few Chinese journalists sitting in the press box of a NASA shuttle launch. The major reason why the Chinese journalists were there to begin with was the shuttle carried some scientific instruments that China help created.

    In 2013, that stand is insanity. The US as of now doesn’t have any active manned space capability and has been solely relying on the Russians who sometimes aren’t that reliable. ISS is quickly approaching its ending and may be de-orbited within this decade. With the continuous budgetary pressure likely NASA will not be able to embark on another space station project, which will leave China the only nation with a permanent space station. With Wolf being a one-man obstacle that may not go away anytime soon by dying or failing to be re-elected, the Europeans are hedging their bet by preparing to join the Chinese space station endeavors, including learning Chinese.

  8. Zack
    March 7th, 2013 at 13:25 | #8

    great points, jixie; i hadn’t realised the seminal role wolff had in this counterproductive decision. It just goes to show the glaring flaw in US modern democracy-that one can delay and filibuster and prevent good governance for selfish reasons. It’s practically treason, but hey wolff is the one who the electorate keeps voting into office.

    You also raise a good point about the logic defying laws of allowing weapons that kill and maim and the prohibition of gambling; this blind legalism is a more recent characteristic of western civilisation and it’s one of those things that sounds good in theory but fails miserably in practice-consider for instance the case of the woman suing mcdonalds for having burnt herself over its coffee. Blind legalism and litigation are the realities of modern day america. It’s for that reason whenever you’re around LAX, the PA will periodically inform you that ‘solicitors are not endorsed by this airport’ which gives you an idea of the state of the american legal system.

    In this context, we can see Hilary Clinton’s attempt to promote what she calls a ‘rules based world’ as a way of perpetuating US laws over other countries (TPP and SOPA for instance) which is of course hypocritical considering the various violations of international law her country has been responsible for.
    More tellingly, i actually consider it a further sign of weakness from the US; what hegemon needs to promote a ‘rules based world’ unless they would gain more from that than a realpolitik quid pro quo arrangement?
    Therefore, you can consider such actions, TPP etc as the USG preparing the ground for when it’ll have to compete with peers but wanting to have the institutional advantages over its rivals.

    i also think that Washington (despite its de facto practice now of state capitalism ie copying the Chinese) is trying to promote its philosophy of free market liberal capitalism in the form of Space X in the new space race. The media has certainly been squawking about space x’s supposed ‘private company’ background (even with the Federal monies and assistance its accepted) and presenting Space X and privatising space travel as an alternative to NASA (because most of NASA’s research and funding has gone to the Pentagon’s space program in the form of the x-37B)

  9. March 8th, 2013 at 03:43 | #9


    Elon Musk, the founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX among his many other titles, is living my dreams. The greatest adulation to him is probably the director of the movie Iron Man, Jon Favreau partially modeling Tony Stark after the real-world Elon Musk. He might’ve laughed at BYD being a Chinese company when Tesla was compared to it, and SpaceX’s own marketing promotion constantly touting at beating the Chinese at the price, but personally have nothing but my utmost respect to the man himself.

    SpaceX is much leaner than the bloated NASA and a small number of NASA’s primary contractors. One of its greatest advantages is its leveraging of the untold sum of pre-existing NASA R&D money by hiring the former NASA employees and contractors. SpaceX has not gone IPO yet so its book is unknown. A while ago WSJ reported that it needed $1 billion cash infusion. After that, it has won a major NASA contract, though if WSJ’s initial report is believable, SpaceX’s financial picture albeit improving is still precarious.

    Some unnamed official of the CAST was supposed to have said that they couldn’t match SpaceX’s price (not necessarily its true cost), and why should they? Long March rockets of CAST have a much longer established history.

    You know my space fantasy? After the likes of Frank Wolf die off, the US, China and others join together to build a space elevator with new materials such as carbon nanotube. A space elevator can drastically reduce the cost of sending cargoes and humans to the space, and enable the human race to have a much bigger footprint in the space by having much larger space stations, and moon colonies, etc. From there, we can embark upon more deep space explorations. Heck, if nothing else, we stand a better chance of stopping a would-be mass extinction event like the one created the Chicxulub Crater and wiped out those pre-history (or pre-human-history) dinosaurs.

  10. Zack
    March 8th, 2013 at 04:00 | #10

    that was very informative and enlightening, jixie. i always enjoy your posts;)

    Yes, having true cooperation in the sciences, especially space science would be a boon for mankind. a space elevator as your described would indeed be most cost effective for humanity. Better if the UN took over stewardship of the elevator, to ensure all had a fair go.

    i do think it’s disturbing however, that the USG appears to have tacitly given the space budget to the pentagon ie militarising space science. For all the brou-ha-ha over China’s space program being under the command of the PLAAF, the pentagon has a more comprehensive space program than perhaps NASA in this day and age.

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