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Firm Competition, Energy Security, and Location Decisions of Chinese Investment

Thu, August 31, 10:00 to 11:30am, Hotel Nikko, Ballroom I


Chinese outbound direct investment (ODI) in oil and gas has grown rapidly over the past two decades. Many scholars have debated whether Chinese ODI was motivated by the government's emphasis to increase energy security, or the firms' incentive to compete in the world energy market and maximize commercial gains, or both. In addressing this issue, existing research has primarily focused on the top three state-owned oil and gas companies: China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec). We argue that focusing on the big three national oil companies is misleading because China's "going out" policy has allowed more than just the big three oil companies to invest abroad. In this paper, we analyze the decisions over investment locations by four types of investors--big three CSOEs, other CSOEs, SOEs run by local governments or administrative bureaus, and private businesses--over two decades from 1992 to 2012. We offer the first systematic empirical test of whether the competition among firms or the energy security concern has been driving the investment location decisions of Chinese oil and gas investors. Our analysis has implications for understanding the linkages between economic interdependence and national security.