Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2022, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (3): 377-400.doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1952-2

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Energy globalization of China: Trade, investment, and embedded energy flows

YANG Yu1,2,3()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Institute of Strategy Research of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Guangzhou 510070, China
  • Received:2021-11-30 Accepted:2022-01-10 Online:2022-03-25 Published:2022-05-25
  • About author:Yang Yu (1984-), Professor, specialized in energy geography and regional studies. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42022007);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871118);Youth Innovation Promotion Association, Chinese Academy of Sciences(2018069)


China is in a critical period of transforming from the oil and gas era to the renewable energy era. To better understand the process of energy interaction between China and the rest of the world, this study aimed to investigate the basic theoretical cognition of global energy interaction and analyze the pattern and changes of energy interaction between China and the rest of the world with the method of complex networks, multi-region input-output analysis, and other technical methods. The main findings are as follows: (1) Chinas coal-based energy production structure and the huge demand for oil and gas indicate that ensuring overseas oil and gas supply is the most direct logic of energy interaction between China and the rest of the world, and the interaction scopes are mainly concentrated in oil- and gas-rich countries and regions. (2) With the development of renewable energy, the logic of energy interaction of China with the rest of the world has changed from countries and regions rich in oil and gas to countries with global renewable energy development and installation needs for its comparative advantages for manufacturing, which forms a renewable energy trade map that covers all major countries and regions in the world. (3) The overseas energy investment target of China has expanded from a limited number of host countries to Europe, Southeast Asia, and other countries and regions. The investment business is not only limited to the oil and gas field, but also expanded to solar energy, wind energy, hydro-power, and other renewable electricity generation projects. (4) As a global manufacturing and trading power, part of the energy consumed by China is embodied in the global production network and trade network for redistribution. The scope of energy interactions between China and the world will further expand to countries with general commodity trade relations with China, forming the global “energy hub” function. This study can provide a theoretical perspective and decision-making for a deeper understanding of the energy interactions between China and the world, maintaining national energy security, and participating in global energy economic governance.

Key words: energy globalization, energy interaction, energy trade, energy investment, embodied energy, energy transition