- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

The Rise of Energy and Resource Nationalism in Asia

Mikkal E. Herberg


This chapter analyzes Asia’s energy and resource security challenges, how they are contributing to the region’s geopolitical tensions, and the implications for U.S. policies toward energy security and Asia.

Main Argument:

Energy and resource security have become critical issues on the economic and strategic agenda in Asia as demand and dependence on imported supplies grow. Regional powers, most notably China, have responded with nationalistic strategies to secure control over energy and commodity supplies. China, India, and other countries in the region are also becoming major energy investors in Iran, Sudan, Myanmar, and other pariah states. The zero-sum energy and resource atmosphere in the region is feeding geopolitical rivalries among China, the U.S., India, Japan, and Korea, and this competition is now extending to rare earth minerals, which have increasingly important defense and energy applications.

Policy Implications:

  • The U.S. has major stakes in the impact of Asia’s energy security strategies on regional stability, security, and prosperity. The region needs to find collective ways to build trust, manage the impulse toward energy competition, work together on new supplies, and build new energy infrastructure.
  • Regionally, the U.S. and China must lead the development of a strategic regional energy dialogue on common energy security concerns. This dialogue should be aimed at confidence-building and improving trust in each country’s energy policies.
  • The U.S., Japan, and Korea should try harder to involve China and India more directly in the global institutions for managing oil market disruptions, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA).