REPORT

China Energy: A Guide for the Perplexed

Peterson Institute by Daniel H. Rosen and Trevor Houser | May 5, 2007

China’s energy profile provides a window into its economic soul. It tells us much about what China does, how fast it is doing it, and how efficiently. Despite its importance, China’s energy profile has been hard to make sense of for those whose jobs don’t entail watching the sector full time. It is in flux, changing quickly in its constant effort to keep up with the rest of the economy. It is a fusion of plan and market forces, formal regulation and seat-of-the-pants fixes, central intentions, and local interests. And while retail consultants can trawl through supermarkets in Shanghai counting cereal boxes to measure trends, in energy many key metrics are obscured by national security considerations or habits of secrecy at state-owned enterprises.

The purpose of this policy analysis is to make visible the internal dynamics of the Chinese energy situation. In doing so, authors Daniel Rosen and Trevor Houser hope to facilitate energy policy cooperation between China and other countries, more rational conception of and reaction to China’s energy behavior by markets and governments, and more effective prioritization of the energy reform agenda in China, the United States, and elsewhere.