The elephant and the tiger: Energy security, geopolitics, and national strategy in China and India’s cross border gas pipelines

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 11, p.183 - 194 (2016)



Energy politics


China and India—the two large expanding economies of the world—being not endowed with enough oil and gas, are heavily relying on imports to sustain their growth. The physical proximity of both these countries makes them deal with some of the oil/gas rich countries in their common neighborhood to secure energy through pipelines. This paper outlines consumer countries’ measures towards supplier and transit countries in economic, political, and social dimensions. It compares the approaches of China and India in terms of their investments, bilateral trade, political interference, level of strategic partnerships, and social and cultural linkages with the supplier and transit countries. Contrasting China’s two operational projects—Central Asia–China and Myanmar–China gas pipelines, with India’s two comparable proposals—Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India and Myanmar–Bangladesh–India gas pipelines, it gives rationale of China’s success and India’s lack of it in materializing these projects. The paper indicates policy gaps for both countries, particularly for India, in speedy realization of stalled projects and smooth functioning of ongoing ones. This study can be instrumental in providing a guideline of the measures a consumer country must undertake as part of its national strategy in supplier and transit countries to achieve energy security and geopolitical advantage.